The National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) says it will be consulting lawyers pertaining to General Motors’ (GM’s) announcement to withdraw its operations from SA.
"This is the second time that GM is pulling out of SA‚ and as Numsa, we smell a rat. We suspect that the shareholders got a very good deal at the expense of the workers," Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said. "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."
Numsa says GM 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."
The US car maker announced on Thursday that it was pulling out of SA and Isuzu would take over the firm’s operations in Port Elizabeth.
GM workers were informed of the decision at a meeting at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Thursday morning.
"There are over 1,000 employees at GM and 500 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," Jim said.
"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," Jim added. "By shutting down operations in SA, this will have a major impact not just on GM plants‚ but for companies along the value chain as well."
Numsa said it was concerned that GM had already indicated that it might retrench workers and that it intended to issue section 198 and 197 notices.
"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.
"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‚" said Jim.