Trade union Solidarity launched its “Save Our Steel” campaign (SOS) at a press conference held at Akademia today. The campaign, which focuses on the challenges this industry is facing, seeks to encourage involvement that will lead to positive action to save the domestic steel industry.
According to Marius Croucamp, Solidarity’s Deputy General Secretary for the Metal and Engineering Industry, a drastic slowdown in local economic growth, cost pressures in the manufacturing sector, existing stifling regulatory measures and excessively high steel imports all bring tremendous pressure to bear on the South African steel industry. “In recent years we have experienced thousands of jobs losses in the domestic steel, manufacturing and engineering industries. Numerous local steel companies either downsized by retrenching thousands of workers or closed down completely, leaving scores of employees without refuge,” Croucamp said.
Croucamp pointed out that the steel industry creates about 300 000 jobs for people who are involved in the steel industry, be it directly or indirectly. “A total of 66% of the households in the Vaal Triangle as well as those in Newcastle depend on the steel industry for their livelihood. Statistics such as these highlight the need for and urgency of a campaign like the SOS campaign,” Croucamp said.
According to Croucamp, the primary objectives of the SOS campaign are to save the South African steel industry by creating public awareness of the challenges this industry is facing, to lobby public support, to promote alignment between the primary and down-stream industry and to achieve synergy between them. This campaign will target the public, industry players, government, the media, trade union members and structures as well as workers in the industry.
“The SOS theme goes hand in glove with the idea that we are all proud South Africans, and for this reason, we should stand and work together to ensure that we don’t lose our steel industry,” Croucamp said.