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Numsa to strike over pension reforms

Theto Mahlakoana 19 January 2016

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) says it will embark on a two day socio-economic strike over the new controversial pension reforms.

The union has called on all unionised and non-unionised workers to join it as it challenges what it has described as an insult to the working class.

“The union will this week be submitting a section 77 notice for a two-day strike against the retirement amendment laws and calls upon all other unions and workers to join us those days. Our aim is to build the maximum unity,” said Numsa general secretary, Irvin Jim.

The union addressed reporters on Tuesday in Johannesburg on the state of the economy, warning of a tough year ahead for workers and the poor, and that the reforms would worsen the situation.

Numsa and other unions including Cosatu have rejected the Tax Laws Amendment Act which seeks to encourage workers to save their retirement benefits, saying it took away the workers’ choice to spend their personal benefits as they will.

They were mainly opposed to a clause in the act which stipulates that all retirement savings accumulated after March 1 would have to be transferred into an annuity upon retirement, and only a third of the total could be withdrawn as a lump-sum.

“This is an attack on workers’ basic rights, in particular on young workers, who will be most affected, as they have their whole working life ahead of them, so all their savings will be affected,” said Jim. Numsa claimed the government had reinstated the original apartheid pension system and that their members would demand their right to choose now, as they did then.

In 2014, the union went out on a four week strike in the manufacturing sector over wages, which adversely affected many companies in the steel industry. More recently, it marched against corruption in SA and threatened to ‘hurt” the economy.

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