Numsa and Mercedes-Benz collide over large scale lay-offs

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has marked the start of a campaign to save hundreds of jobs.

This comes after Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), the German luxury and commercial vehicle automotive brand, notified the union that it intends to impose retrenchments in accordance with Section 189.

The company revealed plans to lay off more than 700 South African employees.

According to the automobile brand, the East London, Eastern Cape, production factory has suffered several issues that are not related to the corporation.

External factors blamed for retrenchments

Andreas Brand, Group CEO & Executive Director of Manufacturing, said the planned retrenchments will take effect on September 1. Retrenchment notices will be delivered earlier than that date.

“The reasons for the retrenchment are the deteriorating macroeconomic conditions and prolonged port challenges. [Also] fluctuations in the exchange rate, subdued household income and rising fuel prices. [These together with] increased energy and logistics costs have impacted our manufacturing operations,” said Brand.

Approximately 702 employees will be affected by the retrenchment. The job categories that are likely to be affected are artisans (67), team managers (23) and 612 hourly employees.

Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim said they are dismayed by the Section 189 notice. Jim said they are waiting for the CCMA to give a date when they can engage the employer. They will engage the employer in other strategies to save jobs.

Union is engaging the CCMA on the matter

“We are deeply concerned about workers and their families who will be affected if the company goes through with the retrenchments.

“The Eastern Cape province, where the majority of MBSA workers are based, will be hardest hit. [This] because of high levels of poverty and unemployment. It is… unlikely that workers will find alternative employment if the proposed retrenchments occur,” Jim added.

He assured the employees that they would engage with the employer at the CCMA, and fight for them.

“Numsa will do everything possible to provide alternatives. With the hope that we can prevent job losses.”

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