Numsa wants steel companies nationalised

Siseko Njobeni

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has once again agitated for the nationalisation of steel companies ArcelorMittal, Evraz Highveld Steel and Scaw Metals.

Local steel companies have come under immense pressure amid low steel prices which render local producers uncompetitive, putting thousands of jobs on the line.

Addressing journalists on Tuesday afternoon, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said government should move with speed and nationalise the companies. The union has for years now been championing state intervention in key sectors, arguing that certain companies should be placed under “worker control”.

The nationalisation call is among a number of demands Numsa will express during its march against corruption on October 14.

While commending the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) for encouraging localisation, Jim was critical of National Treasury, saying it was slow in giving instructions to state-owned enteprises, government departments and municipalities.

“Without those instructions, nothing happens and the dti’s good deeds become just words. We demand that all state-owned enterprises must put together stimulus packages to procure locally and stimulate the South African economy,” he said.

He said the Department of Economic Development had failed to ban the export of scrap metals or to impose an export tax on scrap.

“This failure has cost us at least seven foundries that are now closed,” said Jim. In his view state-owned enterprises should be sourcing steel locally.

“It is a question of political will. If we have political will, we can save ArcelorMittal and Highveld,” he said.

Meanwhile, Numsa will not join Cosatu’s nation-wide strike on Wednesday, Jim said. Cosatu said the cross-sector strike marks the World Day for Decent Work.