Solidarity aims for global support in fight against Trump steel tariffs

Trade union Solidarity on Tuesday said it is going to mobilise unions locally and internationally to take on newly proposed American import tariffs.  

"We do not think that Solidarity will win the war against (US President Donald) Trump, but we know that if everyone around the world does their part, the pressure can become too big," said Solidarity chief executive Dr Dirk Hermann.

Speaking at a press conference where the trade union launched a campaign to counter Trump's steel tariffs, Herman said more than 7 500 jobs in South Africa could be affected by the new tariffs.  

According to a Fin24 report, S&P Global believes proposed US tariffs on up to $50bn of Chinese imports will have a subdued impact on the global technology sector. The list of products subject to US tariffs reportedly include more than 1 300 imported goods such as aerospace technology products, industrial machinery, medical equipment and medical materials.

"There are a lot of role players around the world that are affected and it is now a world war on steel. The different role players must play their part. It is no longer a war involving America and China only…

"One important element in all of this is the worker's voice, that specific element is necessary in this fight. So we are one piece of a big world war puzzle… we have a responsibility."

When asked if the union would be prepared to work with other unions in the country and around the world, Hermann said: "With no doubt."

"We will work with other unions, especially (the) National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and even further than that; we can find trade unions and voices around the world.

"We have decided to contact other trade unions as well to see what we can do in solidarity with them and we will contact international contacts. We know there is a lot of unhappiness among the trade unions in the US… This is our small part and with NUMSA and other trade unions, we can be even more powerful."

'Be trampled, or get up and fight'

Solidarity deputy secretary Marius Croucamp said it is important for people to push back.

"You can have one of two approaches: you can lie flat and be trampled on or you can get up and fight and that is what we are calling upon.

"We are going to stand up for the workers' voices, we are going to mobilise workers' voices around the world including Canada, Europe and America… Together I think that we can invoke powers enough to change some of the minds in the USA.

"As long as we push back together, we can bring sanity back to the whole trade war," he said.

Croucamp also announced that the union has launched a petition and 100 000 signatures zre needed for the White House to pay attention to it.

To find out how to sign the petition, people can visit Solidarity's website.

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