Engineering industry is edging closer to a “mother of all strikes”

The Metal and Engineering industry is braced for major shut downs as giant metalworkers’ unions have finally declared a bitter wage dispute.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) in conjunction with five other metal unions, including Solidarity were scheduled to embark on a major nationwide tools down after employers out rightly rejected a list of substantive demands “as non-negotiable”.

This follows a deadlock in wage negotiations between Numsa with several other unions and Steel Engineering Industry Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) on the other hand.

Today (Wednesday) Numsa, jointly with other labour unions will engage employers’ organization on dispute resolution processes under the auspices of the Metal Engineering Industry Bargaining Council (Meibc) and submit a 48-hour strike notice to the management.

Although employers agreed to up the wage offer from 6, 8% to a further 7, 3% for the lower income job categories between F and B, unions still felt aggrieved by the intransigent attitude displayed by the employers in rejecting other demands which sought to augment other conditions and benefits of down-trodden employees in the industry. Workers in the high income job category were given 6, 8% increase.

Numsa together with other independent unions were intent on broadening their mass mobilization drive for a major offensive in two weeks time in order to win also members of the public and other stakeholders in preparation for the industry-wide mother of all strikes.

Numsa demanded R10- an- hour wage increase for general workers in grade F-B categories, and R5 increase hourly for those in grade A. The National Bargaining Commission has agreed, however to establish a compulsory five grade structure in the industry.

Employers, in turn had demanded that employees who received wage increases greater than 10% in the past 12 months should be exempted from any agreed wages. This provoked the ire of the unions.

Other difference centred on the refusal by the employers to employ permanently those contract workers who remained under labour brokers’ employment for six months. Seifsa also rejected out of hand, among others demands for improvement of shift allowances, proposed employees share ownership scheme, increase in overtime premiums and four weeks annual leave.

For further information contact:

Mziwakhe Hlangani, Numsa national spokesperson

Cell phone: 082 9407116

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