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Siemens Fires 1,200 Black Workers after Strike

July 17, 1985

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ The South African subsidiary of the West German multinational company Siemens said it fired about 1,200 black workers at five of its plants Wednesday after a three-day strike over wage demands.

The Metal and Allied Workers Union, which represents most of the strikers, was quoted earlier as saying 2,000 workers were dismissed because they did not comply with a management ultimatum to return to work.

Johan Trotskie, joint managing director of Siemens Ltd., said the number fired was closer to 1,200.

The South African Press Association quoted Moses Mayekiso, the union’s Transvaal Province secretary, as saying: ″We condemn the action of dismissing people instead of negotiating with them. The company must reinstate the workers and negotiate with them fairly.″

Trotskie said the manufacturing company held talks with union leaders Wednesday and would resume them Thursday in an attempt to resolve differences over wages. ″I have hope and faith that the problems will be resolved,″ he added.

He said the company would consider rehiring the dismissed workers to avoid disruptions to production.

More than 1,500 workers in a total of 6,600 Siemens employees began the job action Monday after the company rejected employees’ demands for an across-the- board pay increase of one rand (50 cents) an hour. Wage rates vary according to job level and experience.

The industrial council for the metalworkers’ industry had granted a raise of 7 cents an hour, which the Siemens workers rejected as too low.

Siemens Ltd. said the strike was illegal because workers walked out without going through a number of mediation steps required under South African labor laws.

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