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Thursday, 04 July 2024 11:20

Ford to Numsa - 'workers not entitled to profit sharing,can only make demands next year.'

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has downed tools indefinitely from today at Ford Motors Company SA in Silverton, Pretoria.

The union wants Ford to share profit with the workers, arguing Ford generated over $25 billion in 2023.

Numsa president Andrew Chirwa told striking workers outside the Ford plant in Silverton that the company's CEO received a bonus of R490 million, while the company refuses to share its $25 billion profit made in 2023 with workers.

Chirwa said, the car maker served them with papers saying "workers are not entitled to profit sharing, and can only make such demands next year during new negotiation season".

"What we are fighting for is a principle and the problem is that we are dealing with management that refuses to even engage on the principle first. We said to them let's sit down and agree on a principle that if Ford declared dividends, we must agree on what percentage should be ring-fenced for workers as it is done for Executives as it is done for management, this is not a new phenomenon, it's there in Europe, it's there in France, it's there in Germany, it's there in the US Ford itself in the US does make provisions," Chirwa explains.

Ford South Africa, which dates its time in South Africa back to 1923 when it started assembling Model T cars in a disused wool shed in then Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha), directly employs about 5 500 people in SA, and indirectly supports around 60 000 jobs within the value chain as of 2022.

Since 2009, it has invested about R27.4bn into its local operations.

Numsa served Ford South Africa the 48-hour notice to strike after the two parties failed to reach an agreement during a conciliation process held on June 11 at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in Pretoria.

The union said this then resulted in a certificate to strike being issued.

The union accuses the company of raking in billions of rand in profits annually and refusing to share the windfall with the workers.

In response to Numsa, Ford said that consistency in production was vital when it makes investments, and the union action that affects manufacturing also adversely affects South Africa's global competitiveness.

Ford SA's spokesperson Minesh Bhagaloo said the company was requesting that non-striking employees work from home for the duration of the strike.

The duration of the labour action is currently not known. Ford has since approached the Labour Court on an urgent basis to try to block the strike action.

"Ford has a long-term commitment to South Africa and has invested heavily in its operations and local employees. Regrettably, production disruptions have a profound impact on South Africa’s economy and global reputation as a place to do business," Bhagaloo said.