Sacked South African Volkswagen workers appeal for international support… — Volkswagen 1300

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Published by the International Committee of the International (ICFI)

Sacked African Volkswagen workers for international support

By our correspondent

17 2000

In his recent State of the speech, South African Thabo Mbeki attacked the striking Volkswagen (VW) The strikers, employed at the company’s in Uitenhage, near Port were defending 13 democratically shop stewards who had been from office by their the National Union of Metalworkers of Africa (NUMSA). The union has throughout with VW management, who they would sack the workers for refusing to attend when instructed. Mbeki VW’s action and said the ANC government also would not be hostage by elements pursuing and anti-social purposes.

The World Web Site has received material the Uitenhage Crisis Committee which represents the sacked VW explaining the background to the sackings and on workers internationally to support struggle against the NUMSA

UCC explain that a new layer of 13 shop stewards was elected at the VW in March 1999. NUMSA immediately set about trying to them, including taking to the Labour Court. The stewards suspended when a 2,000-strong meeting voted not to attend a general meeting on January 17 hearing that the company’s would not be present. The general are events through which the VW seeks to instil in the workforce the to improve company performance. asked that they be to continue working, instead of the meeting, but management refused. It was at poorly attended general with the 13 stewards also not that NUMSA officials, union President Mtutuzeli voted to suspend the stewards.

The day, the Sheriff of the Court and VW presented the 13 with notice of immediate suspension as shop On Thursday, January 20 workers outside the factory gates in of the stewards. Union officials to turn up to negotiate on behalf of the but held a meeting with VW that evening and signed an that the shop stewards suspended. Disciplinary hearings planned for Monday, January 24, work should recommence and workers should sign a committing themselves not to disobey instructions. As most workers at the were now not working they learnt of this agreement the press.

The UCC’s statement explains:

the weekend, a crisis committee was set up of of various factories in Uitenhage to forward this struggle. The Mxolisi Ndandani, was also as the spokesperson. On Monday morning, 24, he made a call for independent even if need be from the government. No one came, even up to On that same day, the illegally locked out the workers. At the time, the NUMSA leadership a condemnation of their own locked-out They used workers’ to try and kick out democratically elected stewards, but when it came to the illegal lockout, they sat by arms folded. This the collusion of VWSA management the NUMSA leadership. The press biased and played up the story of a of 350 strikers and on Wednesday, 26.1.2000, the lockout, the VWSA management the 350 workers. It is clear that these 350 names, the management had militant workers that been a thorn in their for some time.

By Friday, January 28, the NUMSA again made an agreement the VW management that work restart on the Monday, January 31, and the disciplinary hearing for these 350 start on that same The NUMSA officials even to represent these workers. By focus to the defence of the 350, it was for the NUMSA officials to keep to position that the 13 remained They were helped by the management, who from the start the shop stewards from meetings on the plant. When realised that the VWSA were working hand in with the NUMSA leadership, hardened their position and to stand together.

Although from Monday, 31 some workers had gone to work, for the whole week up to 4 there was no production at the plant.

On February 1, at 3.27 p.m. issued a statement on behalf of one of the officials who was leading the attack on the 13.

We it in full: “COSATU General Zwelinzima Vavi will a NUMSA General Meeting at Madlakane Hall, Kwanobuhle this afternoon at 5PM. The has been called by NUMSA to the illegal strike at the Volkswagen in Uitenhage. Vavi will all NUMSA members to go back to and distance themselves from provocateurs bent on disturbing at the plant.”

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This shows even before the COSATU secretary came to the Eastern before he even heard the firsthand, his mind was made up.

This point emphasises the by the Uitenhage workers crisis that the mediation has to be from an source in which they confidence. We still make call, as we have done the very beginning.

The VWSA position to give the workers an to return by Thursday, February 3 or be shows to what extent were prepared to go in order to the NUMSA leadership’s plan to get rid of the 13 stewards. The ultimatum was an attempt to workers and intimidate them abandoning the 13 and whomever else to return without them. on Friday morning, 1,300 were dismissed and a further 300 are on suspension, also facing The need for solidarity now is critical.

To all members we say: don’t the leadership to victimise the fighters at it is us, tomorrow it will be you! To all members, an injury to one is an injury to To the VW workers across the world, we produce the wealth of the company—let us together—today it is us, tomorrow who knows who be next? To all workers everywhere, we your support now!

A working class united never be defeated!

WM Ndandani

Uitenhage Crisis Committee

+ 27 [41] 082 626 5298

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