Numsa tyre sector deadlocked after a negotiating plenary failed to resolve the deadlock based on a settlement framework proposed by the facilitator of the negotiations.
The Facilitator then issued a certificate that allows the unresolved dispute to be referred to strike or lockout. Three issues were identified to be major items in dispute: Red Circling, Pay for Weekend Work and Across the Board wage increases.
Red Circling refers to employees’ actual rates of pay that are above their respective grades maximums. The intention of Red Circling is to give lower than Across the Board wage increases to the affected employees.
The lower than Across the Board wage increase is called a Retardation Factor. Its intention is to retard the wage growth of the employees who are earning above their respective grade maximums, and it is demand of the employers.
On the contrary, the union’s demand is that Red Circling must be scrapped altogether with retardation. All employees, according to the union’s demand, must receive increases on their actual rates of pay in accordance with a negotiated Across the Board wage increase.
Similarly, the wage model, i.e. the wage table indicating minimum and maximum rates of pay per grade must be increased by a negotiated Across the Board increase.
On the contrary, the employers are demanding that the wage model must be increased by Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is what has happened over the years.
The problem is that this has contributed in developing artificial Red Circling when an Across the Board wage increase that is greater than the CPI is applied to employees’ actual rates of pay.
That is why the union’s position is that Red Circling and retardation are both unfair and must be done away with. It is also unfair to negotiate an Across the Board wage increase that is greater than CPI but increase the wage model by the CPI.
Concerning Pay for Weekend work, what the employers demand is to rollback hard-won bargaining achievements. Currently employees are entitled to their ordinary hourly rate of pay plus ½ per hour for any shift that falls on a Saturday and twice their ordinary hourly rate of pay per hour for any shift that falls on a Sunday.
The employers are demanding that this must be reduced to ordinary hourly rate of pay per hour for “an ordinary shift” that falls on a Saturday and ordinary hourly rate of pay plus ½ per hour for “an ordinary shift” that falls on a Sunday. The union is rejecting the employers’ demand as it seeks to erode a hard-won bargaining achievement.
Therefore, of the three major issues in dispute, two are employers’ demands and only one, i.e. Across the Board wage increase of a negotiable double digit is the union’s demand.
In the past years, collective bargaining was based on workers’ demands for improvement in wages and working conditions. With globalisation the bargaining system has evolved to the present situation where employers are also placing demands on unions and workers.
This is partly the result a competitive struggle. Competition is no longer between different employers only, specially multinational corporations, but now involves the various production facilities that are the subsidiaries of the same company in different parts of the world brought in competition with one another.
In this way the same employer sets workers against workers in a race to the bottom as a strategy to continuously reduce the cost of production and maximise profit. This is a problem for workers.
The dispute remains unresolved and though having a certificate which allows a strike, the union is currently exploring all channels and mechanisms that can lead to agreement being reached. The basic strategy is to secure agreement and the basic tactic is to use a strike as the mechanism of the last resort when all else has failed.
On Friday, 27 September the union will convene a Tyre National Shop Steward council attended by the National Office Bearers to assess the situation and reach a final recommendation for consideration by the National Executive Committee (NEC) in relation to a strike.
Already there are in principle agreements existing on several demands.
NBF 2013: wage model summary and three year agreement: Click here to download rates