The tyre manufacturer is now actively working towards resuming operations at the manufacturing plant.
“The past few weeks have been a difficult time at SRSA. The industrial strike action resulted in daily protests. We have been tirelessly engaging with various stakeholders, including the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA). We are pleased that all parties have come to an understanding and are committed to moving forward,” said Lubin Ozoux, CEO of SRSA.
Having come to an understanding, SRSA, together with NUMSA shop stewards and a forum made up of community leaders, have agreed on a set of guidelines that help move past the impasse.
According to SRSA, “Employees will begin to return to the plant from this week, in a staggered approach, to allow the tyre manufacturing process to be in full operation by next week.”
“We remain committed to our employees and to the future and sustainability of the company. Together, all our efforts and contributions will ensure that SRSA continues our local tyre manufacturing excellence,” said Ozoux.
Furthermore, SRSA said the protest action has impacted Ladysmith residents, who witnessed protest action daily.
“We acknowledge the impact of the strike on the community and thank them for their patience over this period. We are committed to rebuilding trust with not just our employees, but the community as well,” said Ozoux.
Ozoux further thanked the members of the public who sent in their CVs for the anticipated vacancies at the plant.
“We are humbled that so many people want to work for our company. We sincerely appreciate the effort taken by Ladysmith community members in submitting their CVs. Our HR team will fully screen all the CVs for those who can be considered for positions that were vacant prior to the protest, and for upcoming vacancies,” said Ozoux.
Reflecting on the matter, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) in Kwa-Zulu Natal has signed an agreement with Sumitomo today. “The company has agreed to withdraw the dismissal of 900 employees.”
Newcastillian News first reported on SRSA’s decision to dismiss 900 employees on 25 May 2023, when the tyre manufacturer engaged in multiple discussions with NUMSA.
This included direct communication with former employees, regarding the “No Work, No Pay” policy and the repercussions of dismissal. Despite these efforts, employees refused to return to work, prompting SRSA to initiate the dismissal process, impacting approximately 900 workers.
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Moreover, NUMSA stated that it actively engaged in mediation with SRSA last week, resulting in the signing of the agreement on Wednesday, 7 June 2023.
“The goal was to settle the dispute amicably and to find a way to reinstate workers who had been dismissed. We are pleased that we were able to achieve this and save jobs. As part of the agreement, Sumitomo has agreed to withdraw the dismissal and reinstate all 900 workers. Furthermore, there will be no disciplinary charges, except in some cases of misconduct,” said NUMSA.
The union has also agreed to the previous shift pattern. This is where workers work for six days per week. This would remain unchanged until December.
“There will be no short time because this issue was affecting members negatively,” NUMSA explained.
“We agreed that NUMSA shop stewards would once again play a role in the appointment of flexi or trainee employees. Previously, NUMSA shop stewards would sit on the committee overseeing flexi employees and they were consulted on appointments,” said the union.
According to NUMSA, “The shop stewards gave input and ensured the company paid workers and paid all their benefits, and ensured that the employer did not exploit them.”
“All of a sudden, Sumitomo stopped consulting the committee. However, we are happy that the consultation process with shop stewards will begin again. The company agreed to abandon the workplace forum because it was undermining the work done by shop stewards,” added NUMSA.
As workers now resume their duties on Thursday, 8 June 2023, what are your thoughts on the above-mentioned? Share your views in the comment section below.