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By Dimakatso Modipa

Ford Company workers protesting outside the head office in Silverton on Monday demanding profit-sharing photo by Dimakatso Modipa
Ford Company workers protesting outside the head office in Silverton on Monday demanding profit-sharing photo by Dimakatso Modipa

Amid negotiations still going on between Ford Motor Company and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), workers at the company’s plant in Silverton, Tshwane are continuing with their strike which started on Thursday last week.

This despite a court interdict which was granted to Ford Motor Company by the Labour Court last week.

According to the Labour Court’s ruling, the strike by Ford Motor Company workers who are affiliated to NUMSA is unprotected and illegal and the workers were ordered to go back to work as early as Friday morning last week.

Be that as it may, the irate workers have defied the Labour Court’s verdict and decided to continue with their strike, whether the Labour Court deems their strike illegal or not.

At a “feedback” meeting between workers and their union NUMSA this past Friday, the workers acknowledged the Union’s recommendation that they must go back to work after the Labour Court pronounced that the strike was illegal and unprotected, but they made it clear to their union leaders that they will continue with their strike until their demands were met.

They briefed their union leaders to go back to the management of Ford Motor Company and tell them that they would continue with the strike and won’t back down on their demands.

Seeing that the workers were serious about their intention to carry on with the strike, Ford Motor Company’s management invited NUMSA leaders to the negotiating table on Monday in an attempt to end the strike.

Early on the selfsame Monday, workers started toyi-toying and singing outside the Ford Motor Company’s premises, this in defiance of the Labour Court order which had declared their strike action unlawful.

The aggrieved workers sang the following song in protest:

“Umoya wami uyavuma, asinalo uvalo kulento siyezayo,” which translates to “My spirit gives consent, and we therefore don’t have fear in what we are doing.”

NUMSA President Andrew Chirwa told Tshwane Talks on Monday morning that the union leaders were at Ford Motor Company premises to fight with workers in the strike that started last week on Thursday.

This as the management of Ford Motor Company had not yet come up with an offer that would lead to the resolution of the strike action.

“The strike is about profit-sharing, after Ford Motor Company has made a massive profit of over R20 billion for three years now but is refusing to share the selfsame profit with workers,” said Chirwa.

“The strike goes on and workers are angry about the intransigence of Ford Motor Company’s management, which has refused to meaningfully engage with us NUMSA as a trade union on behalf of the workers,” he said.

Chirwa explained that though there was an interdict against the workers at the moment, the workers were of the opinion that their grievances are genuine as the judge didn’t give reasons for his ruling against NUMSA, but merely ordered workers to just go back to work and that this was a glaring omission by the judge,” he said.

He pointed out that the interdict was just an interim order as there is a return court date wherein NUMSA would argue out its case in the matter.

“The workers’ demands are reasonable and legitimate and the least the employer can do is just to negotiate, this as workers are reasonable people and willing to engage the employer,” emphasised Chirwa.

“Ford Motor Company is a multinational entity yet some of its workers can’t even afford to buy themselves a house, live under horrible conditions and are heavily indebted,” he said.

“We want to confront this level of greed and defeat it once and for all for what it really is,” fumed Chirwa.

Chirwa acknowledged that the employer would apply the no-work-no pay rule but that workers were ready to resume work and that it was up to Ford Motor Company management to come up with an offer that would resolve the strike impasse.

He pointed out that they as NUMSA leaders were going to meet Ford Management negotiators on Monday morning, but that at the moment there was nothing concrete that the management had put forward in terms of issues like percentage offered to workers regarding profit-sharing.

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