Numsa to accept 7,5% from steel and engineering employers to avoid strike.

DATE : 05 August 2004



A potential strike action by over 120 000 workers in the steel and engineering has been avoided. This comes after workers in the industry overwhelmingly agreed to accept 7,5% for the lowest paid grades and 6,5% for the highest paid grades. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) will formally meet with the Steel Engineering Industry Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) on the 10th August 2004 to sign and conclude the agreement. The wage increases will be backdated to 1st July, 2004 and will benefit over 300 000 workers employed in the industry. The increase was a culmination of a one day successful strike action last week and the union extensive consultation process of all workers. NUMSA is the biggest and highly militant union in the industry.

We have been persuasive to engineer the direction of employers to pay better wages. The ball will now roll swiftly because we have received quick response from SEIFSA. Crucially, the workers will be able to celebrate such a wage increase because it addresses inflationary pressures. The strike was a remedy to pursue employers to give a better increase. Employers have created uncertainty by wanting workers to accept low wages. We have made large strides to change the mindset of employers.

The message is on the wall to other employers, it is either they follow the stream that will lead to a common ocean or divert into another ocean. Bargaining must be tough because wages contribute to better living standards. There has to be a balance in the redistribution of income amongst the poor workers. We want employers to have a healthy appetite of paying better wages. The bargaining strategy of the union has really achieved excellent results. We believe that such high wage increases could alleviate the ever-increasing pressure on low-income households as a result of the rising cost of living. With the rate of inflation averagely on the rise, these increases will translate into real purchasing power of workers. This means that workers will be able to spend more on goods and services.

The wage increase is a victory for all workers. It will put an end to the attitude of employers attacking workers wages. We want employers to realise that the survival of the industry is increasingly dependent upon the mutual participation, consent and support of the workers by giving good wages for productivity enhancement. We have strengthened our priorities to give more to workers and increase the wage scale. The wage agreement is in line with our hard bargaining strategy and determination encapsulated in our vision to significantly cushion workers salaries.

NUMSA is determined to win decent wages in all sectors, fighting wage inequalities and downgrading of labour standards. The employers across the sectors must not be given a chance to dictate wages and benefits. The wage increases in many of our sectors will give the union an opportunity to substantially narrow the wage gap. We think that with such kind of wage increases in most of our sectors, this will force many employers to move from narrow and antagonistic confines of wage restraints. They will be forced to use their power intelligently and responsibly to engage the union with an aim of finding an amicable solution. Employers must avoid using their power to blatantly disregard workers rights.

For more information or interviews contact Dumisa Ntuli at (011) 689-1700 or 0829737282. website