190 000 steel workers to protest over 6% wages.

DATE: 05 July 2005

Johannesburg Press release – for immediate release


Last week, the wage negotiations between the National Union Of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the Steel Industry Employers Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) remained deadlocked. Nearly , 190 000 members of NUMSA in the steel industry will now embark on a one day march on the 12th July , 2005 in protest over 6% wage offer to the lowest paid and 5% to the highest paid workers. The union is now demanding a wage increase that is not less than 7% for the lowest and 6% for the highest paid workers. The marches will take place in major cities of the country. The wage talks cover 310 000 workers employed in the industry.

SEIFSA has taken a sadistic pleasure in ratcheting up attacks on workers living standards. What is necessary now is to use our collective power to strike for good wages. The four days wage negotiations last week could not produce the desired results. The 6% wage offer was a watershed in the long run drive to rob workers of decent wages. The wage offer means that workers are economically excluded and the real purchasing power will decline. There is a lot at stake , the economy has undergone significant changes and the industry has been restructured in such a way that workers lose out.

Workers have paid dearly ever since the increase in petrol price in the last six months which will continue to increase again in July by around 30 cent a litre. Inflation is at an all time low. The inflation rate is not catching up with the fuel increase as it stand at 3,9%. Workers living standard remain compromised. Poverty and structural unemployment contribute to the misery of workers as most of them feed the poor and the unemployed.

The wage talks have gone completely wrong and workers across the country were aghast at the shameful wage offer. Employers have been incapable of satisfying the demands of workers inevitably arising from the calamities generated by the restructuring processes in the industry .Layoffs , labour brokering , outsourcing , casualisation are all features of a restructured production system in the steel industry. In the desperate attempt to make ends meet, workers find themselves in low-wage non-union jobs. Many workers have been thrown out production. Employers have always been happy about this situation to accumulate more profits in order to pay whooping salaries to managers and directors. It is in this regard that we have to take a collective fight to stop the bosses’ offensive. The strike is our last resort to achieve better wages. By means of this strike, no matter what its immediate outcome may be, the employers will best come to understand the necessity of better increases. Wages have been shrinking in the past three years and we cannot play by the employers rules.

1. Wages and Duration of the agreement:

That the wages increases shall be not less than 7% for the lowest paid and 6% for the highest paid workers.
Backdate wage increases from the 1st July 2005.
Demand a two year wage agreement.

2. Labour Brokers

· The use of labour broker workers on direct production processes currently restricted to a maximum 12 month period should be reduced to 6 months.

3. Shift Allowance

Increase in afternoon allowance to 10%

4. Integration of house agreement

All house agreement companies must be integrated into the main agreement as a separate schedule.

For more information contact Dumisa Ntuli @ (011) 689 1700 or cell 0829737282