The workers, who were all off duty due to short time, told their management that the National Union of Metal Workers (NUMSA) is imposing Sizwe medical aid scheme on them, as their medical aid of choice.
A worker shouted outside the VWSA premises, “We don’t want the Sizwe medical aid scheme because we owe hospitals, Doctors because of them.”
After that, the workers handed over a memorandum to VWSA management. It was accepted by Richard Kasika, who said,
“Without wasting your time, I’d like to thank you for a peaceful demonstration and a memorandum.
At least it clarifies to us what are the issues that people may be concerned about not that VWSA is going to be able to solve it on its own, as this is an industry issue…we have to take a discussion at that level.
Management at VW will also discuss it. It will also get the attention of the MD (Managing Director) as well.” he said.
After that, workers shouted “amandla! ngawethu (all power, to the people), before proceeding in a convoy by cars to NUMSA offices in Chase Street in the CBD.
VWSA worker Chuma Mase told JHR, “Last week on Tuesday, we did tell a NUMSA national official that we don’t want Sizwe, but he said whether we like it or not we must join it,” she said.
As they arrived at NUMSA offices, workers sang songs and whistled.
They put out giant speakers in front of NUMSA offices that echoed through the busy Chase Street.
As they handed over a memorandum to NUMSA local chairperson, Msimelelo Dyanties, workers waited under trees, others in their cars.
Lukhanyiso Tyobeka who is one of the workers read the memorandum alongside his fellow worker, Mzukisi Sidina.
“Workers say they have been sued by lawyers of hospitals for owing them money due to Sizwe, who does not cover all medical expenses whilst doing deductions whether you are sick or not.
“We have received a notice from VWSA that come January, all of us must join Sizwe,
NUMSA national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said: “It is not true to say NUMSA is imposing Sizwe on workers. That is not true. No one is forcing Sizwe on anyone.”
She said the Auto Industry decided after the last round of negotiations that there must be an Industry medical aid. There was a process to choose a medical aid for the industry as a whole.” he said
The employer and NUMSA (as the recognised union) formed a task team to decide which medical aid must be used.
This is because the industry has a range of different medical aids in place, some companies have Sizwe and Bonitas.
Others have their own in-house brand etc. So a decision was taken by the Task team to appoint Sizwe. That task team includes employers.
“We have noted that some NUMSA members are unhappy with that decision. We have said we will call for a National Auto Shop Stewards council to hear from members themselves on this issue. If the majority of them vote against the decision it will not be imposed on them.”