JOHANNESBURG, November 15 – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Wednesday that its members will meet with the management team at appliance manufacturer, Whirlpool, in Kwa-Zulu Natal to discuss the ongoing strike at the firm.
Whirlpool is one of the biggest producers of household appliances with a range of dishwashers, dryers, hobs, stoves, and other kitchen appliances.
At least 900 workers, including non-union members, have been on strike for the last nine days over housing demands.
Numsa acting spokesperson, Phakamile Hlubi, said the union has been negotiating with the employer to try and resolve the impasse, but no progress had been made to date.
Hlubi said the lowest paid worker at Whirlpool earns R43 per hour and this makes accessing decent accommodation almost impossible. This means that if Whirlpool employees worked an eight-hour shift for five days a week, they earn an average salary of R6,800 a month.
“Workers at Whirlpool have made it clear that they will not return to work until the employer agrees to provide housing as part of the wage agreement. Their demand for housing cannot be ignored given that the majority of them cannot afford decent accommodation when they earn R43 per hour,” Hlubi said.
“Workers at Whirlpool are responsible for manufacturing beautiful appliances, which have made the company a popular household name, but ironically they can never afford these products. Such low salaries mean that they are doomed to live in slums and informal settlements without basic services like water or electricity.”
Hlubi said Numsa will be meeting Whirlpool management later on Wednesday in order to resolve the impasse.
Whirlpool management was not immediately available for comment.
– African News Agency (ANA)