Solidarity gears up for 'Save our Steel' campaign

27th March 2017 By: Natasha Odendaal - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Trade union Solidarity has set March 30 as the launch date for a job-saving campaign to conceive and implement purposeful plans to help “save” certain industries that are struggling to remain viable.

“This campaign will focus specifically on the steel, manufacturing and engineering industries to address the challenges this industry and related industries face,” said Solidarity metal and engineering deputy general secretary Marius Croucamp on Monday.

He cited the receipt of the latest Section 189 retrenchment notice, this time from Girlock Brakes, which explained that it could no longer meet its operational requirements owing to, besides others, a 95% reduction of a local Volkswagen contract and imports of brakes from China.

“According to the company, these changes in the market environment forced [it] to reduce [its] workforce if [it] still wanted to remain a viable business,” Croucamp said.

Some 37 of the 136 employees at Girlock are likely to be impacted by the imminent retrenchments, which Girlock expects to complete by June 15, when the Volkswagen contract ends.

Overall, the steel industry in South Africa was experiencing economic hardship owing to a drastic slowdown in the growth of the local economy, cost pressure in the manufacturing sector and excessively high steel imports, he added.

Solidarity aimed to create public awareness of the challenges facing the local industry, lobby public support and foster alignment between the primary and downstream industry.