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Blomo Plastics counts the cost after protest

The damage to the building, office equipment, the vehicles and items stolen is estimated at R920 000.

Protest action at Blomo Plastics, on Zinc Road, last Thursday left 11 injured. ER24’s communications officer Russel Meiring says: “ER24 paramedics, along with Life Healthcare, arrived on the scene at 2.27pm to find numerous people on the premises.


Multiple charges filed after a protest action at Blomo Plastics

“Paramedics assessed the patients and found that 11 people had sustained minor to moderate injuries.

“The patients were treated for their injuries and thereafter eight were transported by ambulance while three others were transported privately to a nearby private hospital,” says Meiring.

The protest action was part of the continuing strike action in the plastics industry that started on October 15.

According to a statement issued by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), one of the unions leading the strike, they are demanding the following:

• Plastics workers’ wages and other terms and conditions of employment must be regulated by the council’s Main Agreement, the Metal Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC)

• Plastics workers’ wages and other terms and conditions of employment must be the same as those in the rest of the industry covered by the MEIBC’s Main Agreement.

“We demand that there be no downward variation of plastics workers’ terms and conditions as compared to those workers in the rest of the industry that are covered by the council’s Main Agreement,” says Numsa.

• Numsa remains resolute in demanding a 15 per cent wage increase.

“In the period 2014 to 2017 employers short-changed workers and denied them an increase,” says Numsa.

• They further demand the settlement reached in the MEIBC from 2017 to 2019 be applied to the plastics sector.

• Numsa wants plastics employers to agree they will do all that is necessary to support the request of the Minister of Labour for the extension of the Main Agreement.

This will ensure the agreed wages and other substantive conditions of employment relating to plastic-sector employees will be applicable to all who are employed by the plastics employers who are not a party to a plastics-sector employer’s organisation but fall under the scope of the MEIBC.

• Numsa demands that employers in the plastics-sector support the extension of the Main Agreement on substantive wages, terms and conditions of employment, as supported by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa).


Workers right to strike within the South African labour market

Irvin Jim, the Numsa general secretary, said in a press release on October 12: “At least 10 000 Numsa members will down tools to defend their rights and demand a #LivingWageToday.”

He also said: “This is a national strike which will affect at least 450 companies in the sector. “Any industry that depends on plastic, whether it’s the cellphone, IT or automotive sector, will be affected.

“This is an indefinite strike and will continue until such time that employers meet our demands.”

Meanwhile, Blomo Plastics are counting the costs of Thursday’s protest action.

According to Springs Police spokesperson Capt Johannes Ramphora, six cases have been opened at the Springs Police Station since Thursday. Charges include business robbery, two cases of malicious damage to property, assault with the intention to inflict grievous bodily harm, common robbery and theft out of a motor vehicle.

The damage to the building, office equipment, and vehicles and items stolen, is estimated to be around R920 000.

According to the police, it is alleged it was the people who were on strike who damaged the building and assaulted some of the employees. At this stage, it is unclear if the perpetrators were employees of Blomo Plastics.

There were unconfirmed rumours that the owner of the company was among those who were injured.

Phakamild Hlubi, responding for Numsa about the events at Blomo, says: “As Numsa we wish to state for the record that if any criminal activity took place then we expect the SAPS and the judiciary to investigate and prosecute the guilty party.

“We have always advised our members to conduct themselves within the confines of the law during protests or pickets, which is our responsibility as a law-abiding trade union.

“Furthermore, we are not the only union involved in strike action.

“Metal and Electrical Workers Unions of SA (Mewusa) and non-union members are also part of the strike; therefore, to simply presume that Numsa is responsible for violence is wrong.”

He says the strike continues as workers and employers have yet to reach an agreement with regard to their demands.


The 411: Strike that work-life balance

“We met on Monday and talks broke down again because they are trying to impose changes which will worsen the conditions for ordinary workers,” says Hlubi.

“The employers are trying to force us to accept a condition that workers in outlying areas will be paid less than those working in Gauteng.

“This is something which we successfully fought against in the past.

“We reject these changes because they will send us back.

“This is why the strike has continued for so long.

“The employers are inflexible and want us to allow them to abuse workers.

“We reject this.”

The Addie attempted to get comment from the company but received none at the time of printing.

The Addie will follow this story as it develops.


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