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Numsa, technological change and politics at ArcelorMittal's Vanderbijlpark plant, 22 October

Speaker: Mondli Hlatshwayo
Date: Thursday 22 October 2015
Time: 12:30-15:00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, 6th Floor, MTB Tower, Howard College, University of KwaZulu-Natal

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, with more than 360 000 members, is the country's largest trade union. Its ability to address various crises in the manufacturing sector - especially a steel industry under attack from imports in a glutted world market - reflects sophistication but also tensions in its policy advocacy and shopfloor mobilising. This challenge was also evident during major production technology changes from 1989 to 2012 at ArcelorMittal in Vanderbijlpark, the largest steel complex in Africa. Based on in-depth interviews, factory visits and documentary evidence, it appears that the difficulties in Numsa's response to technological changes at the plant hold lessons for its more general strategic approach, which has evolved into a call for full-fledged nationalisation and protection of this vital industry.

Mondli Hlatshwayo is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg. Previously he worked for Khanya College, a Johannesburg-based NGO, as an educator and researcher. He is a former community activist who helped link the Social Movement Indaba membership, and he worked with Numsa on its 'struggle expo' of movement networking last year. His areas of research include post-schooling, adult and youth education, workers’ education, xenophobia, trade unions and social movements. Hlatshwayo has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on the following topics: xenophobia and trade unions, football world cup and stadia, education and immigrant learners, and trade unions and technology. He is co-editor (with Aziz Choudry) of the forthcoming Pluto Press book, Just Work? Migrant Workers, Globalization and Resistance.

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