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Update on VWSA dismissed workers struggle [11.07.2000]

The struggle is now reaching a crucial stage with less than 3 weeks left before the next round of the arbitration [31 July - 11 August]. The ANC veterans have now met OCGAWU and pledged that all compenents of the ANC alliance now supports the reinstatement of the workers. Even the local mayor has come out publicly saying that he never supported the dismissal of the workers. He said that the income from services in the area has dropped to half since the mass dismissal. Several businesses have closed in the town and many others have been forced to either retrench staff or have worked short time for several months now.

The ANC is having its national general council in Port Elizabeth this week. A worrying factor has been the attempt by the ANC veterans to try and call meetings over the heads of the new union leadership [OCGAWU]. Tomorrow, they will call their own meeting with some VWSA workers. There are many rumours of a package of R17 000 to be paid to each worker that goes back via the veterans. There appears to be an attempt to try and divide the workers. we must not forget that on the 3rd feb, before the afternoon shift and evening shift had even started, that NUmsa officials met with the Uitenhage Crisis Committee and put it to them that VWSA management would only take back 800 workers and the 13 shopstewards would never be taken back. The rest of the workers would be given money for a project. [This is a similar type of proposal that has come up when NUmsa leaders were involved at Firestone tyres and Mercedes Benz].

Thabo Mbeki is scheduled to speak in several other towns, except Uitenhage. It's clear that he cannot come while the workers are still outside.

Meantime some of the members of middle management have decided to leave VWSA. It is not clear if there is any link to the handling of the mass dismissal but the ones who are leaving are those who played a key role in dismissing the workers.

Last week, the police invaded the OCGAWU office in search of 'stolen' goods. When they found nothing, OCGAWU laid a complaint against the false allegation and against police harassment. Needless to say the police have taken no action against the people who made the allegation nor can we expect the harrasment to stop. The real role of the police is clearly demonstrated by these false charges.

On Thursday the workers and their families and their supporters in the community will be marching to VWSA once again. The call is once again for the immediate reinstatement of all workers. The workers inside VWSA have called on OCGAWU to convene a general meeting on Sunday 16 July at 3pm for all workers inside to discuss their problems. It will be a historic meeting as OCGAWU has now over 1000 members inside and despite management's victimisation of them and Numsa's failure to process the resignations from their union. eacha day more qand more workers are steadily joining. The workers inside also have queries over their provident fund monies that are being steadily eroded by unmandated loan agreements that Numsa signed. The company that is managing the provident fund, Old Mutual, has a 23% share in the bank, Standard bank, that is benefitting from this deal. There is also massive ongoing restructuring that is taking place and several depts have been outsourced since Feb.

The drive for funds is still urgently needed and the R40 000 needed for the 2 weeks transport is still far from being reached. Contributions should be made via the usual channels.

direct all enquiries to OCGAWU
78 Constitution Str,
Eastern Cape,
South Africa
ph 27 41 9925489
fax 27 41 9220309

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