Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) have downed tools at Mpact Plastics in Pinetown in Durban in protest against unequal wages and employee benefits.
Mpact Plastic is a major supplier of plastic containers and manufacturer of Jumbo Bins, wheeled bins, and a variety of other crates, trays and related packaging items.
Numsa said that contract workers at Mpact were withholding their labour because they were fighting for equality in the workplace. At least 140 Mpact contract workers are on strike for equal pay and benefits enjoyed by permanent workers.
On Wednesday, permanent employees also joined the strike in solidarity with their fellow workers.
Numsa’s KwaZulu-Natal regional secretary, Mbuso Ngubane, said that workers will picket outside the company offices to demand equal pay for work of equal value.
Ngubane said contract staff must be paid R40 per hour, just like the permanent staff, as they currently earn half of what the permanent staff earn. He said contract staff must receive benefits such as membership to a provident fund and medical aid, already afforded to permanent employees
Ngubane, who also called for an end to labour brokers, said Numsa had secured a victory at the Labour Appeal Court (LAC) in July which reinforced the rights of temporary and contract workers.
The LAC ordered that contract workers, who have been working for a company for more than three months, be made permanent.
“Furthermore we commend the permanent employees at Mpact for expressing solidarity with their comrades in the workplace by embarking on a sympathy strike,” Ngubane said.
“They recognise that an injury to one worker is an injury to all and they are willing to do what is necessary to ensure equality in the workplace.”