Numsa's Iscor members suspended their three week strike on June 17. After extensive consultation with all Iscor workers on management's new proposal, the Union then signed the agreement.
It will give workers a once off payment of R750 each for back pay hardship suffered as a result of the restructuring and unbundling of the company. In addition, workers accepted a new improved salary scale.
For example, those workers on the lower end of the spectrum, will get a monthly wage increase of R600 – their wage will rise from R2000 to R2600 – a 30% increase. Other workers on other grades will get similar percentage increases.
The Iscor strike action was triggered by disagreement on the back pay amount. Initially Numsa demanded a once-off payment of R35 000 per worker to compensate workers for the hardship suffered during the seven years of Iscor's restructuring.
The union later modified its back pay demand to a R5 000 once off payment to all workers. In the middle of the strike action, the company interdicted workers on two occasions for acts of provocation, intimidation and violence.
Two striking workers were arrested and charged by police for intimidation.Once the interdict was granted, Iscor moved swiftly to hire 1500 scab labour at its Vanderbijlpark plant, despite claims that the strike was "having no impact on production".
Numsa accepts that the Iscor strike action was a big push to force the company to adjust salaries in accordance with new methods. The strike was dynamic, solid and a good remedy to change the company's bad practices.
It achieved its purpose in improving the monthly salaries of workers comprehensively, considering that wages of workers remain unchanged for years despite lavish performance bonuses paid to managers and directors.
Since the strike resumed workers are strong and united. Numsa believes that the Iscor strike action lays the groundwork for improving wages and working conditions of other steelworkers in the country.
It also provides a benchmark for how workers should be rewarded should companies undergo restructuring and unbundling.
Numsa will now resume wage negotiations for 2003 with the company. All workers in the Iscor plants must wait anxiously for another increase in their salaries before the end of July 2003. So far the union is demanding CPI-X plus 5% improvement factor.
We trust and hope that it will not be difficult for the company to meet the union's demands. If this is not the case, workers will again act in unity and strength to press for their demands.