10.3.2000 Update on VWSA struggle


1. On Wed 8.3.2000 a delegation [of community leaders] initiated by Gomomo met with VWSA management. Gomomo indicated that Premier of the Eastern Cape, Stofile, had already been to Germany and the VW bosses indicated that the resolution of the dispute lies in the hands of the local management [Maegner]. vw management took stofile to poland, spain and china. Gomomo was not part of the delegation to vwsa[he claimed because of his position as a govt representative]. The members of the delegation were a couple of church ministers, Gower from middle management of Goodyear; Costa- a local businessman ; Dr Siva Pillay- an ex-mayor of Uitenhage; and 2 from the ANC provincial executive. Management was hardline, they insisted that not a single worker from the 1300 would be taken back. They claim they had to take a hard line as they had to secure new investment of R500 million. This new investment has been secured they say. Management claimed they had the support of the Mayor, the Premier, and the President.

2. What was even more interesting was the report back held on Thursday, 9.3.2000. From this it was clear that the whole purpose of the delegation was to see to what extent the workers were prepared to compromise. Gomomo was virtually begging to listen to the legal strategy of the workers and was even prepared to set up a meeting with the legal counsel of the workers! Daniel Dube [ex Numsa President] was also present and tried to convince workers that without the community, they would not succeed. [in other words that the workers had to work through the ANC structures]. They all talked about building bridges [through Stofile, the mayor and even Alec Erwin or the National Working Committee of the ANC, if need be, but they want the issue cleared up before 21 March, Sharpville day, when President Mbeki comes to Uitenhage.] At the very end of the meeting Gomomo and Pillay came clear that it would be great if the workers could be united in Numsa when dealing with management. As always, the Crisis committee and the 12 shopstewards thanked the efforts of Gomomo and indeed anyone who would approach management to open doors. Such approaches were always on the basis on not prejudicing the workers rights. The workers had been prepared for mediation from day1. The Crisis Committee expressed disappointment that none of the delegation had addressed the undemocratic practices of Numsa officials and leadership. And as far as criticism of any government leader is concerned, this is a right and especially if they make comments without first meeting with the workers concerned and checking their facts.

It was only one of the church ministers, it was clear he was not in the Gomomo caucus, who said that his congregation members report that VWSA is building scrap. we have the graphs of the quality of the products and they all show a massive fall , including on the A4 export order. from some sections, the workers report that the production that 16 cars per shift are completed , sometimes it is as low as 2 per shift. the local scrapyards are getting full of the scrap produced.

All 1300 dismissed workers have resigned from Numsa and elected for representation by a lawyer.

Numsa held shopstewards elections with a very poor turnout. The workers report that the floors of the factory were littered with crumpled ballot papers that workers dumped to show their opposition. The pace of resignations from Numsa speeded up and within days, Numsa has lost its representavity and the VWSA management has closed the union office and put out their officials from the factory. Workers objected to the fact that these shopsteward elections meant that Numsa officials had given up on the fight for the reinstatement of the 1300.


Report from Brasil [a short report]

Two delegates from VWSA shopstewards committee were sent to Brasil to try and have the matter of the dismissals addressed in the VW World Council that was meeting from 8-10 March 2000. At first Hans Uhl, the VW Works Council Secretary was just repeating all the same arguments of management. The SA delegates were initially deliberately kept away from the venue of the meeting. Later we received the report that after some further discussion [the issue appeared in the local newspapers] Uhl eventually agreed to raise the matter with VW Germany. Thousands of leaflets were distributed to VW workers in the ABC region in Sao Paulo. The delegates are still in Brasil and further news will be released as soon as it is available.

note that the 2 vwsa delegates may meet members of the international metalworkers federation this weekend and they will be sending an update soon.

other points

another ex-shopstewards house was petrol -bombed but no-one knows who is behind this. cosatu secretary vavi condemned this as the work of the dimissed workers. the crisis committee put this to the anc and they promised to call him to order.

the medical aid has been cut off to all dismissed workers. one worker's wife was in hospital and her newborn child was underweight [850g] - she was in an incubator at the time of the medical aid being cut off. vwsa insisted that there be no exceptions but the doctors refused to remove the baby from the incubator until her weight had picked up. the baby has subsequently picked up weight to 1 kg and has been removed from the incubator successfully. other medical aid schemes normally have a 3 month waiver period but vwsa has insisted that there be an immediate stop.

The Way Forward

The Uitenhage Crisis Committee is calling a joint mass meeting of VWSA workers inside and outside for this Sunday, 12.3.2000. Workers inside have started making a collection for funds for those of their comrades outside and are getting organised through setting up committees inside to take up their grievances. The Crisis Committee has made an appeal for funds so that their struggle can be maintained. collections are being made from local businesses who stand to lose a lot from the current dismissals. Workers have said , they are used to sacrifice, they faced the mighty fist of the apartheid regime and are prepared to stand firm. This is especially so as they stand for the upholding of workers' democracy and working class independence, on a much higher level than has ever existed in Cosatu up to date.

A working class united will never be defeated. Workers repeated their call for all the local and national leadership of Numsa to resign or be kicked out by the membership for the role they have played in the dismissal of the 1300 and the crushing of workers' democracy.


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