Merc workers on strike

2013-05-20 11:03

EAST LONDON - Thousands of workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in East London have been on an illegal strike, the Daily Dispatch has reported.

was told at 11am on Monday that a statement would shortly be issued by Mercedes-Benz SA (see end of story) which confirmed the industrial action.

The vehicle manufacturer was expected to approach a court if the 1600 workers at its East London plant did not return to work by the end of Monday, it was reported.

The employees stopped work on Friday (May 17), bringing production to a halt.


Mercedes-Benz had not experienced a strike in more than 24 years, the Dispatch reported. The company told the newspaper it had a good working relationship with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA.

Workers told the Dispatch a recognition agreement between the company and Numsa in 1989 allowed them to embark on an unprotected strike for 72-hours.

The strike came amid tensions over the company's plan to outsource its logistics department which, Mercedes said, were not finalised.

Shop steward Phumezo Tonisi told the Dispatch the union would meet with employees to decide whether to proceed with the strike. "The company interprets the recognition agreement in a way that suits it and we told them as much in our meeting on Friday."


The Mercedes statement that MBSA has confirmed that that workers at its East London plant "participated in an unprotected strike" on 17 May and that production was affected.

"The company has established that the strike was in regard to a decision by the company to investigate work stoppages in its paint shop on May 14," MBSA said. "Talks between company management and the union continued today (May 20) where Numsa officials indicated they would be calling for workers to return to work.

"The company has a long and proud history of positive relationships with the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) since the two parties entered into a Recognition Agreement in 1989. The commitment to work together in a spirit of partnership and trust, ensuring sound and equitable industrial relations and practices, for the general wellbeing of employees and the viability of the Company, has become entrenched over the years.

"Prior to Fridays unprocedural strike, there has been no major industrial action based on labour relations at the plant for more than 20 years."


  • Christie Lombard - 2013-05-20 11:39

    Do people working for MBSA actually realize that the quantity of vehicles produced by the East London Plant is not even a drop in the ocean compared to the rest of the world. That applies to all motor vehicle plants in SA. Thus, we should be thankful for the opportunity and appreciate the fact that these big motor vehicle companies grant us the job opportunities. They could pull the plug on SA whenever they feel agitated enough !! There are enough other countries and nations that will grab the opportunity in a flash....imagine East London and PE (Eastern Cape) without MB and VW !!

      Pi Poggenpoel - 2013-05-20 11:49

      These workers unfortunately only see their next paycheck, which will stop to come if they continue with illegal strikes like this one.

      Klaus Walter - 2013-05-20 21:51

      To all those id..ts who gave Christie a thumbs down..in 5 years time your thumbs will be up your arses and the Mercedes plant will be in China..!

  • Shaun Naiken - 2013-05-20 12:36

    Note that goverment gives automotive manufacturers a huge tax relief to manufacturer here. So they are making a good profit or they would have been out of here a long time ago

  • Skhumbuzo Khumalo - 2013-05-20 19:18

    Irony is we have an unemployment problem, yet ppl those striking treat their jobs with such disdain. This all probably boils down to a lack of proper education. education w/c doesnt teach only 1+1 but also imparts rational, measured and considered thinking. Case in point: a bus driver earning R5000pm strikes for 1 month demanding 20%increase. Initial increase offered by employer is 7%. Empoyee finally settles on 7,5%. so he sacrificed full R5000 salary for a 0,5% increase, being R25. Then there is unpaid debts etc. its ridiculous.

      Christie Lombard - 2013-05-20 22:43

      I applaud you Skhumbuzo...!!

  • Jannie Kroese - 2013-05-20 20:26

    Fire them - now. There are plenty of people with no jobs. We will have to deal with the Unions ASAP before this country goes completely down the dumps.

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