Seifsa brought industry wage talks to a crisis

Metal and Engineering Industry wage talks today (Thursday) got off to a head even before the actual negotiations resumed.

This followed employers’ rejection of any labour proposals which called for further improvement of the conditions of employment.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, together with five other unions spontaneously rebuffed employers’ presentation and walked out of the negotiations conference centre in protest against employers’ bad faith approach and intransigency. The failed talks took place at the Gold Reef City’s Openheimer Conference Centre in Johannesburg South.

Enraged Numsa, Solidarity, United Association of South Africa (Uasa) Chemical Energy, Paper, Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union, Metal and Electrical Workers Union and South African Equity Workers Association union representatives instinctively rose up in despair and chanted freedom songs and left the centre. These unions had already presented their consolidated demands, including yearly wage talks which were delinked from the consumer price index and other specific union issues were identified for further resolution in the next three years.

And the ugly situation, precipitated by chants and booing emerged after Steel and engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) legal representative utterly rejected improvements on conditions of employment and said the proposal would continue to escalate these employment conditions to increasingly unaffordable and uncompetitive levels.

He also protested that industry negotiations for the past 63 years have created comprehensive and best work conditions in the country, saying there was no need for the so- called favourable employment conditions to be tempered with.

Numsa is disgusted at this classic case of bad faith negotiations on the part of employers and this will never be tolerated by the workers. That is why metalworkers have declared “a do or die” fight against conservative employers who sought to erode workers gains in the struggle against economic exploitation, Numsa metal and engineering chief negotiator Thulani Mthiyane said.

Metal, Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (Meibc) which facilitated the negotiations, was also visibly surprised by this myopic approach adopted by employers.

The bi-annual main agreement which will possibly be changed to three years is set to lapse on July 1, 2007. All unions have demanded three year agreement with some demands finalised before July 1, 2007 and other processed throughout the three year period.

For more information contact:-

Mziwakhe Hlangani, Numsa national information officer

Cell phone: 082940 7116

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