NUMSA is shocked that GM is disinvesting in South Arica
18 May 2017
The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) is shocked at the news that General Motors (GM) intends to pull its operations out of South Africa. GM informed our members at a general meeting this morning that it is withdrawing from the South African market. As a result production and sales of all Chevrolet models will cease, and Isuzu will take over the firms operations in Port Elizabeth. Isuzu will also be taking over the parts center because it will be manufacturing trucks and commercial vehicles. GM has confirmed that it intends for Isuzu to officially take over operations from January, 2018.
There are over one thousand employees at GM and five hundred of those are based in the Chevrolet division. The vast majority of employees are NUMSA members. As a trade union we are surprised that GM chose to convey this announcement in this way. There was no consultation with the union, and furthermore, the company has not divulged any details about the fate of its employees affected by this restructuring. By shutting down operations in South Africa this will have a major impact not just on GM plants, but for companies along the value chain as well.
We are concerned that GM has already indicated that it might retrench workers and that it intends to issue section 198 and 197. If these discussions are indeed taking place then it is likely that GM knows how many employees will be retained, and how many will be retrenched. We are expecting to meet with the management of GM soon to discuss these matters.
NUMSA will consult lawyers on the way forward
This is the second time that GM is pulling out of South Africa, and as NUMSA we smell a rat. We suspect that the shareholders got a very good deal at the expense of the workers. The company has already shut down the plant and has indicated that they will meet with us to discuss the latest developments, but that is after the fact. They acted unilaterally and did not inform the union of this decision. As a result we are consulting lawyers to see what legal avenue we have in resolving this crisis. Isuzu will be taking over operations at GM, but we doubt that they will absorb all the workers who used to work at those plants. Now that GM has made it clear that it is disinvesting in the country, we will also probe whether this is not an agenda by the car company to dump the remainder of its cars on the South African market. If they proceed with dumping, we will take up a campaign to prevent them in light of the fact that they are disinvesting in the country.
We stand with our members during this difficult time
To our members, we stand with you. Remain strong, we will support you regardless of what happens in the future. Capital knows no friends, and it knows no enemies. But we will fight with you to ensure that your interests are safeguarded and protected.
The struggle continues!
Issued by Irvin Jim, General Secretary, NUMSA, 18 May 2017