Johannesburg, South Africa | 341,000 members | 33,000 in auto sector | 6,000 at Toyota plants in Durbin, and Johannesburg, S.A.

numsaThere are lessons in South Africa for Toyota workers here in Ontario. Unifor recently hosted a delegation from South Africa’s largest trade union, NUMSA, which represents 6,000 workers at two Toyota plants among its 341,000 members.

The union has won language for Toyota workers there stating they will be made full time employees after three months, no contract workers, and every three months the plant is shut down for a two-hour long meeting between workers and management, said Irvan Jim, general secretary at NUMSA in Johannesburg, when he visited Kitchener.

“Bosses all over the world are about maximizing profits and workers can only improve their conditions if they stand together,” said Jim.

NUMSA represents 100 per cent of Toyota workers in South Africa, and the automaker works with the union, he added.

“Toyota recognizes the union and our relationship with them is one truly of negotiation,” said Jim.

For Denton Schriver, Toyota worker, he wants a similar relationship in Ontario. “They have the same problems we have, and they are addressing them with a union,” he said.

“The fundamentals are the same at all the plants, they have made changes and it gives me hope we can do the same. That is what a lot of team members want. We try address issues with management here and they hope we will just go away.”

Jim sees the status of the contract workers and making them permanent as the critical issue for Toyota workers here.

“Workers (in Ontario) must be confident, they need to stand up and belong to the union. This propaganda they are hearing, that Toyota will close the plant, there is no multinational that will make a decision to invest, or pull out, because of a union,” said Jim.