ArcelorMittal strike ends as Numsa secures above-inflation increase

Union accepts latest offer of an ‘across the board’ 6.5% increase.
Numsa members had been on strike at all Amsa plants nationally since May 11. Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg
The strike at ArcelorMittal South Africa (Amsa) is over, after a deal was struck late on Wednesday between the JSE-listed steel giant and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).
Numsa has confirmed that it has secured an across the board increase of 6.5%.
The union said in a statement it “is pleased to announce that it has signed an above-inflation increase for all workers at ArcelorMittal”.
Numsa members have been on strike at all Amsa plants nationally since May 11, demanding higher wages and improved working conditions.
“We met with the executives of the company [on Wednesday] to negotiate an end to the strike [and] our members accepted,” said the union.
Amsa, which initially offered a 5% wage increase on all remuneration and a 2% cash-back equivalent from gross payments, was forced to up its offer this week after the Numsa strike intensified, threatening to enter a third week.
The group tabled two revised final offers to striking workers on Tuesday.

Amsa’s first revised option was for a 6% increase on all remuneration elements covering allowances, standby and medical aid, and a R5 000 once-off ex-gratia payment.

Its second offer included a 6.5% increase on all remuneration including allowances, standby and medical aid, without any cash payment.

But Numsa managed to secure the latter offer, in addition to the R5 000 once-off ex-gratia payment on Wednesday.

“The employer started by offering zero percent, and we have moved significantly to achieve this result. As a result, the strike at Amsa is over. This agreement is a victory for all Numsa members who made the ultimate sacrifice to fight for improved wages and conditions,” the union declared.

“They [striking workers] did not do this only for themselves, but also, for future generations of workers as well. To achieve an above-inflation increase during the Covid-19 pandemic is a major achievement and it would not have been possible without them.

“We also wish to thank Numsa officials for working extremely hard to secure this deal on behalf of employees,” it added.

South Africa’s consumer price inflation rate came in at 5.9% for April, which means Numsa has secured a new wage deal that is 60 basis points higher than the latest CPI figure.

However, there are concerns that inflation could even hit 8% in SA by the end of the year due to spiking fuel and food prices on the back of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Read: Moody’s expects SA’s inflation to hit 8% in 2022

Numsa noted in its statement that the wage deal signed with Amsa is broken down as follows:

  • Agreement to a 6.5% increase across the board.
  • The increase means that allowances will also increase by 6.5%. This means the acting allowance, housing allowance, retention allowance, compulsory overtime allowance, pension allowance, shift allowance, standby allowance and Proto Team allowance will also increase.
  • Workers will receive an ex-gratia once off cash payment of R5000.
  • The signed agreement, which comes into effect as of the 1 April 2022, expires on 31 March 2023.
  • This means that the increase will be backdated to 1 April and will be payable on the normal pay date for the month of June 2022.
  • Allowances will also be backdated and paid in June.
  • Parties also agree to investigate other incentives for an employee incentive share scheme including ESOP and the KPI bonus/Gainshare.

Amsa also confirms deal 

Meanwhile, Amsa confirmed the deal in a Sens statement issued on Thursday morning.

“The company is pleased to advise that a wage agreement has been reached on 25 May 2022 with Numsa and Solidarity that brings an end to the two-week long wage dispute and strike action at the company’s operations,” it said.

“We are serious about working with our stakeholders to create mutually beneficial outcomes,” commented Amsa CEO Kobus Verster.

“The agreement that has been reached with the unions is testament to the commitment of all parties to move the business forward rather than getting stuck in an unfortunate wage dispute that does not serve anybody, especially our employees,” he added.

According to Amsa, there has been some disruption in operations as a result of the strike, but it said that “the resolution of the matter will allow an opportunity to restore normal operations as quickly as possible and will mitigate the impact of the strike on the business”.

It further noted: “The agreement, which will be backdated to 1 April 2022, and applies to all bargaining unit employees, is made up of a 6.5% increase on all remuneration elements, plus a R5 000 once off ex-gratia payment.”

‘Violence and intimidation’

Earlier this week the group bemoaned the violence linked to Numsa’s strike action, saying the strike has been marred by acts of violence and intimidation of non-striking employees. It stressed that this goes against strike and picketing rules agreed upon by both parties.

According to Amsa, violent acts it has faced include the shooting of an employee who is currently receiving treatment in hospital, cases of assault or attempted assault of non-striking employees, the intimidation of employees and their families in the workplace, instances of stoning and attempted damage to property, and roadblocks preventing access to company premises.

Read: Labour court bars some ArcelorMittal workers from strike -union

“Cases have been opened with the SAPS [South African Police Service] for investigation of these incidents and arrests have already been made in some cases,” it said at the time.

Sibanye strike

While the strike at Amsa has ended, industrial action at Sibanye-Stillwater drags on.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), in a statement issued on Monday, urged Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe to revoke Sibanye-Stillwater’s mining rights in the gold sector.

“Sibanye-Stillwater currently does not want to mine any longer,” says the union, which is demanding a R1 000 per month increase and has been striking for almost three months.

“It is arrogantly sitting on top of the properties of minerals, preventing other potential companies from mining,” adds NUM.

Read:

Sibanye has indicated that it will accept the outcomes facilitated by the CCMA’s processes.

In another mining sector wage negotiation development this week, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and Anglo American Platinum agreed on a new five-year wage deal, set to come into effect in July.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the agreement will see a monthly increase of R1 100 for workers in the first year of the contract, rising to R1 500 in the fifth year.

Listen to Fifi Peters’s interview with OIM International director Chris Jacobs (or read the transcript here):

Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.

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  CPIThe Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures monthly changes in prices for a range of consumer products May 2022 6.50%
  CPI ex OERThe Consumer Price Index excluding Owners’ Equivalent Rent (CPI ex OER) measures monthly changes in prices for a range of consumer products excluding Owners’ equivalent rent that measures changes in the cost of owner-occupied housing May 2022 6.90%
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