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Nissan Workers from South Africa are in Canton to Support Unionization Efforts

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 15 Oct 2013 03:38pm | comments

A delegation of Nissan workers and auto union representatives from South Africa are in Canton this week. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports their goal is to support  Nissan workers attempting to unionize the Canton plant. 

Cedric Gina is president of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa. The group represents more than 325 thousand of the countries auto workers including those working for Nissan. Over the past few days he has been listening to workers wishing to unionize the plant in Canton. He says one recurring theme is fear of management.

"How Nissan has spread this fear about belonging to a trade union. How lies have been spread by Nissan management that what is happening in Detroit in terms of companies that are closing is happening because of the trade unions. And clearly we think we have a responsibility to expose those lies."

Gina says the group is visiting the Canton workers to show solidarity for their efforts to unionize. The relationship began this summer when union organizers from Nissan Canton visited a Nissan plant in Johannesburg to get a better understanding of their operations. Jacob Mashego, (says what they have experienced in Mississippi is different from what the Canton delegation experienced in  Johannesburg.

"Management had stopped the production for three hours. All members were paid for the three hours. So that we may be able to share the experiences that we are given. But we are surprised on the other side that is not done. We are here, we haven’t even met the management of Nissan Mississippi."

One of those hoping to unionize Nissan's Canton Plant is Morris Mock who has painted thousands of vehicles at the plant for more than 10 years.

"They're Nissan just like we're Nissan, they're workers on the assembly line and they're brand name ambassadors. Just like if we respect that brand name, I don't care if that brand name is hurting in Africa, Brazil or here in the U.S. which is hurting. And if the employees are hurting we need them to share our pain and bring that story to Japan with global solidarity in mind."

Nissan officials in Canton have consistently said they have never violated labor standards and would never tolerate threats or intimidation of its employees. They also say they support employees rights to decide whether they wish to be represented by a union. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.





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