Secret ballot would rule out strike actions – NUMSA

Irvin Jim says process of balloting is costly, cumbersome and complicated

NUMSA welcomes the decision by SAFTU to go on general strike to scrap the new labour laws

20 March 2018

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) welcomes the decision by SAFTU to go on a general strike on the 25th April, 2018 to defend the right to strike. SAFTU confirmed this at their National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting over the weekend. SAFTU is proving once again that it is a truly worker controlled militant trade union federation.


The ANC government, with the help of the leadership of COSATU; FEDUSA and NACTU, have declared war on workers and their families. On the 1st of May, which is Workers Day the state wants to implement a raft of new laws which will increase the suffering of workers and their families. They have sold out their members and the working class in general for political expediency. The leadership of these yellow federations agreed at NEDLAC to backward draconian changes to the labour laws, because they want to guarantee cabinet positions for themselves.

The proposed changes to the labour laws will have the following impact:

- Secret ballots are being imposed on workers to make it impossible for them to go on strike. The process of balloting is costly, cumbersome and complicated. The state is using bureaucracy as a weapon against workers and their families

- The minister of labour will be able to go to court to get an order stop a strike without consulting unions

- The introduction of the National Minimum Wage Bill which will make it easier to exploit workers and their families.


The National Minimum Wage is supposed to tackle inequality, poverty and unemployment. It is a fact that African workers across all sectors earn less than their white counterparts, just as it was under apartheid. Stats SA confirmed that the average White household earns five times more than the average African household. At the same time, CEO’s in South Africa are amongst highest paid in the world, earning an average of R8625 per hour. Meanwhile workers in other sectors will continue to earn slave wages. Their salaries will be broken down in the following ways:

- Expanded Public Works Workers (EPWP) will earn R11 per hour

- Domestic works will earn R15 per hour

- Farmworkers will earn R18 per hour

- And all other sectors will earn R20 per hour.

The NMW will cause mass retrenchments. It will be used as a benchmark by employers to justify retrenching workers who earn more than R20 per hour. Last year the employers in the Engineering sector tried to achieve this during wage talks. Only the threat of a general strike in the Engineering sector stopped them.

The NMW is an insult to workers and their families who fought and died during apartheid for equality and a living wage. We reject the NMW, because it legalizes slave wages. We deserve and demand a living wage today!


This is the greatest attack on workers since the dark days of apartheid. The ANC government has demonstrated over and over again that it hates the working class. President Cyril Ramaphosa, the #ButcherOfMarikana, is a stooge of White monopoly Capital and big business. These laws are designed to make it easier for business to exploit workers. It is not surprising that he would be at the forefront of driving this legislation because he was implicated in the mass murder of workers in Marikana in 2012, when he sent an email calling for concomitant action against mine workers who were striking for a living wage. Ramaphosa has done nothing to advance the interests of workers and their families, in spite of his history as a trade unionist. He is a billionaire who earns more than R3 million per annum, and he is comfortable for workers and their families to continue to languish in poverty and earn only R20 per hour.

NUMSA will be marching in Gauteng on Wednesday, 21 March, Human Rights Day to protest against this unrelenting attack on workers by the state. We are marching with 21 other pro-working class organizations to #ScrapTheNewLabourLaws. We will be marching to remind the state that Workers rights are human rights. We call on all workers and their families to join us and support us as we fight to defend our constitutional right to strike.

We call on all workers and their families to support the march and demonstrate their disgust with this government for trying to take away our rights. We also urge all workers and their families to support the strike on the 25th of April. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose. The working class defeated Apartheid. We must unite once again in order to defeat our oppressors.

Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!

Issued by Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary, 20 March 2018