Today, Friday 8th of October is the official day 3 of the nation-wide NUMSA strikes which were initiated after Employer Organisations and Unions failed to reach agreement over wage negotiations which were due for finalisation by June of 2021. Having agreed to a 0% increase in 2020, due to the circumstances in the country resulting from the pandemic, workers and their representatives were heavily invested in clawing back on what was agreed to at the time, as a reasonable agreement. As the initial effects and fears around Covid-19 inevitably become part of the so called new normal, it appears that the memory of the devastating effect that it has had on industry, has faded to grey as the country donned their red NUMSA shirts on Tuesday 5th of October, abandoning their workplaces to join the National strike during which memorandums were handed over to employer organisations in Durban and Gauteng.
While some of the reports received by employer organisation, KZNEIA, had indicated a distinct lack of desire from workers to embark on protest action, NUMSA corralled and rallied their members and any in fact anyone who they could find regardless of allegiance, onto buses to ensure a good show at the presentation of the memorandum. Workers were who persuasively removed from workplaces, reported intimidation tactics from NUMSA representatives, reports of which continued on Wednesday and Thursday this week, leaving workers fearing for their safety should they choose not to go along with the protest action. While rain dampened the effects of this on Wednesday, Thursday’s protest action gained moment. Unfortunately, the protests escalated to thuggery as rogue elements and looting resulted in violence in the Gauteng region, where 1 individual was stabbed, 1 assaulted and 1 was shot on day 2 of the strike.
While fierce negotiations have been underway for some weeks, with increased urgency to reach an agreement to avoid any further loss of production time or loss of life, in an industry which is already struggling under the pressure of the rising costs of steel, effects of Covid-19 and in KZN, reeling from the aftereffects of the horrifying looting events which took place just a few months ago. Employer Association SEIFSA was hard at work until late in the night on Thursday have woken on Friday to no response from NUMSA, who has already delayed the negotiation process on previous occasions, leaving employers in doubt that the strike action will end today and that work will begin again on Monday. While social media reports that NUMSA will be reverting back to employers today, strike action persists in KZN with reports of violence towards an vehicle transporting workers to their workplace, was stoned early today, indicating that until there is an agreement reached, strike action will mare the day once again.
This is a developing story.