Numsa turned 25 in 2012 and has much to celebrate. Some of the gains it has made are:
- In building the union from a small union to a major industrial union where we have won centralised bargaining to protect workers from low wages, exploitation and poor benefits ;
- Membership of the union has grown to approximately 50% of the current workforce in the metal industry.
- We have responded to urgent problems of members like protecting their jobs
- Some gains have been made in closing the wage gap between highly paid workers and low paid workers.
- Numsa has united metalworkers across race, ethnic and gender lines. Women are secured with their jobs after maternity leave.
- Wages and benefits of the workers have been improved. The union has won pension or provident funds for almost all members.
- We have successfully protected individual workers victimised and fired by employers through legal battles and worker solidarity.
- We influenced the government to adopt worker friendly laws.
- We have engaged in campaigns that forced the government to implement pro-poor policies and increase the level of services.
- We have protected workers from work-related injuries and won compensation in case of an injury.
- A strong leadership in our factories has fought employers to provide training and education for members.
- We have been able to sustain our resources and have accounted to members on how their monies are used.
- We have embarked on campaigns that assisted sister unions on the continent and around the globe to grow and fight the misery of exploitation and dehumanisation.
We should praise ourselves but we should also be wary of these challenges still facing us:
- Flexible labour regime: the introduction of labour flexibility and restructuring has resulted in the loss of jobs for our workers and is stripping them of their hard won benefits (i.e. retirement fund, sick pay, medical aid, housing allowance, etc). Numsa must find a solution to eradicate this scourge.
- Retrenchment and unemployment of our members: over the last few years thousands of our members have lost their jobs and this is continuing unabated. Our challenge is to at least stop the loss of jobs.
More ambitiously we should create new quality jobs for our members.The metal and engineering and automobile sector job summits that will take place in 2003 and 2004 will try to address this problem. More innovative initiatives, struggles and programmes are required if we are to succeed in our endeavors.
- Underpaid members: there are still workers, especially in the motor retail, metal and engineering sectors that are grossly underpaid.
- Job Grading Issue: NUMSA has managed to implement skilled-based 5-grade structure in the auto, component, tyre and rubber industries. This has improved workers’ wages, and provided them with skills. But the motor retail and metal and engineering sectors, have still not implemented this grading structure.
- Brain drain: NUMSA is constantly inundated with our quality staff members resigning, choosing the government and the private sector over the union.The reason, of course, is that these sectors pay better than the union.The spirit of sacrifice and commitment seems to be dying and is overtaken by selfish enrichment of our comrades. The union will have to find a solution to deal with this threat.