Jean-Jacques Cornish

SA concern at NUMSA strike

Employers and South Africa’s largest trade union are due to resume talks today (Thursday) aimed at ending a strike that started this week threatening to drive the country into recession.

There have been incidents of vandalism and intimidation early in the action which is as much a political battle as it is to secure a better wage for workers in the engineering and metals sector.

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The 220 000-strong National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa – known as NUMSA – is demanding a wage increase of 12 percent, which is almost twice the national inflation rate.

It’s also insisting on a housing allowance for members of seventy euros a month and a government ban on the use of labour brokers.

Employers have countered offering an eight percent pay hike locked in for three years.

General Secretary of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions Zwelinzima Vavi says the strike’s against a political system that continues to allow the exploitation of workers 20 years into the country’s democracy.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s expressed concern about the strike coming so soon after platinum miners downed tools for five months.


But government’s also concerned because NUMSA is seeking to break from the ruling ANC’s alliance with the trade union congress and form its own leftist party.


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.