re: Follow up on our letter of 17th February 2000
It is now the start of the 6th week without income. The workers diet of dry white bread has been replaced with dry brown bread and water. Our children go to school without shoes and without food. Inside the VWSA factory the situation is very tense. Workers are unhappy at working under conditions which can only be described as similar to a concentration camp. Workers have to even ask for permission to use the toilet. Many are being dismissed for petty issues. While the entire shopsteward committee is still outside, our union officials are unconcerned and have tried to organise shopstewards elections for new people [their friends]. Luckily the workers inside stopped all elections and sent them back to fetch us. There can be no fence-sitting on the issue. For us all, the priority is to get all workers back to work. That is the main issue at the moment. There is a 40% unemployment rate in the region and if the case drags on, we face the prospect of permanent unemployment.
We have already chosen a delegate to be on standby to come to Germany at a moments notice. We only await your call. We have heard there may be a government delegation from SA to VW, but what will it serve if workers directly affected are not there to put forward our side of the story? We have long been ready to go back to work but the union officials want to exclude any mandated worker delegation from any negotiations. How can we leave our future in the hands of the very people who have signed unmandated clauses with management that means slave conditions for all of us? They have already signed, without mandate, loan agreements that has meant that workers go on pension with almost nothing.
We have chosen a lawyer to represent us and ask that you persuade VWSA management to urgently negotiate with us so that there may be a normalisation of production and work. For the matter to go to court may take from 3 months to 2 years to complete the process. Negotiations over the return is therefore the preferred method of resolving this matter. We are sure neither party would want a third party to impose a settlement on us.
We await your urgent response on the call we made for solidarity. To assist in the fight we ask that you consider raising the idea of an international VW workers day of action to help focus the minds of the VW management. To prepare the ground for this, we need to first send a workers delegation to you to give full information on the matter. If VW management can collude with union leadership to get rid of democratically elected shopstewards in SA, they will try this in all corners of the world where there are VW plants.
On the current standing of matters you may contact our legal representative: J Surju at ph 0829602455.
Please respond urgently in writing!
On behalf of the 13 shopstewards and VWSA workers
ph 0835056305 /  41 9775769
fax:  41 9228691
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