If there was one word that flowed from the mouths of both the auto and motor employers in the negotiations that took place in separate venues in the week of June 12, it was the word “sustainability”!
Both sets of employers balked at Numsa’s wage demands, calling them “untenable”, “horrific” and “unreasonable”. Agreeing to them would seriously undermine the survival of the sectors, they said.
Although auto employers held back from tabling a wage offer, motor employers offered CPI (currently at 5, 9%) with 5% for components workers.
Motor employers said they could not move on anything else until “there is considerable movement from Numsa so that… there can be real bargaining.”
In a separate session between the facilitator of the motor negotiations and Numsa, Numsa motor negotiators expressed their frustration to the facilitator.
“We presented the employers with statistics on high wage differentials across the industry,” said Numsa motor sector coordinator, Elias Kubeka. “They don’t want to acknowledge that. They shamelessly say that workers are earning less than R15 an hour and that this is high.”
Motor employers also did not respond to Numsa’s Western Cape regional motor organiser Roger Piedt who pointed out that the director of Combined Motor Holdings earned R5, 5-million in 2012, an increase of more than 8% on his 2011 earnings.
BMW shop steward Thabo Mogoroe, a relatively new shop steward and a newcomer to the auto negotiations, is not fazed by the lack of progress. “History says that it normally starts like this and that after two or three rounds there is movement from both parties and light at the end of the tunnel,” he says.
Elias Kubeka, Numsa’s motor sector coordinator, is less positive about the motor process: “They [motor employers] are still up to their old tricks of delaying, expecting Numsa to revise its demands and refusing to make offers,” he says.
But regardless of the sector, the acting auto sector coordinator, veteran negotiator Alex Mashilo, says “What’s important now is for us to stay focused on obtaining the best we can from the bargaining process.”
And for Numsa to do this “requires unity, discipline and strong organisation on the shop floor.”
Shop stewards who form part of the negotiating teams must immediately brief their shop steward committee (and in the case of motor negotiators – their regions) and then call meetings of all workers to report back to them.
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The next round of auto negotiations took place from June 26-28. Motor convened again from July 3-5.