Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

A strike by workers affiliated to the Liberated Metalworkers Union of SA (Limusa) at Toyota Tsusho Africa, a Toyota supplier in Durban, entered its fifth day on Thursday.

Workers in Limusa colours were also said to be picketing outside Toyota SA’s main plant in the Isiphingo industrial area, south of Durban, but the company denied this.

Toyota Tsusho Africa is a subsidiary of Japanese company Toyota Tsusho Corporation, which is an associate of Toyota SA parent Toyota Motor Corporation.

The union, which broke away from the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), is fighting for recognition at all Toyota facilities and affiliated enterprises.

But the company says that the union has failed to meet the 30% worker representation threshold required for recognition to take effect, and that a Commission for Conciliation, Medication and Arbitration (CCMA) arbitration award made in September confirmed its stance.

Limusa’s Mawonga Madolo disputed that the CCMA had rejected the union’s plea for recognition. He said no resolution was taken, forcing Limusa to opt for a protected strike.

On Thursday, union federation Cosatu’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial head, Edwin Mkhize, threatened to mobilise other workers at plants that supplied parts to Toyota, for a solidarity strike if the company continued to deny recognising Limusa.

On Wednesday, Toyota said it did not recognise the strike as the union that called it was not recognised. But Toyota’s Isiphingo plant was forced to suspend its shifts system on Wednesday afternoon due to the unavailability of parts.

Mbuso Ngubane, Numsa’s KwaZulu-Natal leader, said the strike was having minimal effect.

"This union [Limusa] has failed dismally to attract members at the Toyota plants. The company employs about 6,000 and of these more than 5,000 are Numsa members. This union only had several hundred members, some of whom disputed their membership, saying they were coerced to sign the forms and have since withdrawn their membership. At the CCMA they failed. Now they are trying to get recognition through intimidation, which will not work," Ngubane said.

NOTE: This article, first published on Thursday, October 26, has been amended to make clear that Toyota Tsusho Africa is not a unit of Toyota SA; removing the number of strikers in the intro; and adding comment from Toyota SA about the CCMA decision, and denying there was a strike at its Isiphingo plant.

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