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Court rules against GMSA

2009-06-18 12:18
The National Union of Metalworkes of SA (Numsa) said Wednesday's Labour Court ruling against General Motors SA's retrenchment process served as a warning to other employers.

Reacting to a ruling that General Motors SA (GMSA) retrenched over 200 workers without following proper procedure, the union said it provided a "future lesson to other employers across sectors that South Africa is not a banana republic".

According to the union, which brought an application against the motor company, the 203 employees retrenched in April would not be

However, the court had ordered that a compensation agreement between GMSA and Numsa be filed.

Numsa added that Wednesday's judgment rendered letters of retrenchment to another 130 workers "null and void".

"The court said the process was not in line with the Labour Relations Act," said Numsa's Mphumzi Maqungo.

Ordered to consult

The union had argued that the company had acted against the Labour Relations Act when it did not consult with workers before retrenching them.

GMSA has previously said it did consult and had tried to avoid retrenchments.

"With the economy as it is, obviously there are going to be retrenchments," said Maqungo.

"We never said there should never be retrenchments, but the law must be followed."

The union also said that GMSA was ordered to consult with it to "reach consensus should it contemplate any other retrenchments".

"Numsa welcomes the Labour Court judgment and shall zealously continue defending and advancing the interests of all its members,"
spokesman Alex Mashilo said in a statement.

He warned that if employers did not observe the labour laws, they would "unleash" strikes, regardless of recent criticism of strikes from Trevor Manuel, minister in the presidency and head of the National Planning Commission.

"Individuals such as Mr Trevor Manuel who fabricated allegations on 11 June 2009 at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town that labour is abusing its right to strike shall not deter us from defending and advancing the plight and interests of the workers and the poor," said Mashilo.

General Motors in the US filed for bankruptcy protection at the beginning of June saying it had US$172,81 billion in debt and US$82,29 billion in assets, Associated Press reported.

Like many other auto companies it faced falling vehicle sales in a difficult global economic climate.

It was closing plants in the US where it also planned to cut 21 000 employees and reduce its 6 100 dealers by 2 600.

The South African company was expected to issue a reaction to the Labour Court ruling once it had seen the order.

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