Nica Richards
Deputy online news editor
2 minute read
18 Jan 2021
8:55 am

Numsa protesting nationwide to demand that ‘retrenched’ workers be reinstated

Nica Richards

'It is simply inhumane to retrench workers during a deadly pandemic, especially during Christmas, which is what this management did', the trade union said.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) march to  the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) in Randburg, 27 October 2020. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) will be embarking on a nationwide protest against steel manufacturing giant Macsteel, following the alleged retrenchment of 99 workers. 

Macsteel has branches in Port Elizabeth, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Numsa members said they would be picketing at “various offices and workplaces nationally” from Monday morning. 

Their only demand, they said, was that all 99 workers that were allegedly retrenched be reinstated. 

“It is simply inhumane to retrench workers during a deadly pandemic, especially during Christmas, which is what this management did.”

The trade union is alleging that Macsteel “is using the pandemic to boost their profit margins”, saying that in previous retrenchment incidents, “the savings they made from job cuts were used to pay managers and executives generous bonuses and packages.” 

In an blog article which appeared on Macsteel’s website, the manufacturer laid out the economic pressures being experienced by the sector. 

ALSO READ: Steel shortage: small factories are on their knees

Macsteel Trading sales executive Marcus Nel said that since 2009, steel production and manufacturing industries in the country have been hit hard, due to reduced activity across multiple sectors. 

The Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated the steel sector’s economic woes, in addition to intermittent difficulties in Arcelor Mittal South Africa’s supply issues.

Numsa has labelled Macsteel a “cold and calculating employer” with “no sympathy for workers and their families and the suffering they will endure from being unemployed during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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