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Nxesi calls for calm amid Numsa’s indefinite strike over wage increases

Says social dialogue would bear better outcomes as the country is in a sensitive period of massive unemployment.
Also on the list of demands is paternity leave, family responsibility leave, and a travel allowance of R1 000 a month. Image: Supplied

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi is calling for calm as workers affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) embarked on a national indefinite strike following failed salary negotiations with major employer organisation in the engineering sector, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa).

The country’s largest union, which has about 432 000 members, and Seifsa, which represents 18 organisations that employ 170 000 workers, marched to the Metal and Engineering Industry Bargaining Council on Thursday, after a disputed three-year wage agreement ended in June.

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The union handed over its memorandum to keep to its demand of an 8% increase across the board for the first year and a consumer price index (CPI) plus 2% increase for 2022 and 2023. Initially, Numsa had demanded a one-year 15% pay increase across the board, however this rate was revised down to 8% in August.

Offer rejected

The protest follows the union’s rejection of Seifsa’s offer of a 4.4% increase in 2021 as well as inflation-related increases in the following two years.

Read: SA unemployment is far worse than a bloodbath

Added to its list of demands is the amending of benefits to include 10 days’ paternity leave, five days’ family responsibility leave, and a travel allowance of R1 000 a month across the board.

While Numsa and Seifsa are in deadlock over the matter, Nxesi urges both parties to resolve their industrial issues urgently through social dialogue, citing South Africa’s current critical period of massive unemployment and retrenchments.

“Our Constitution guarantees the right of association and the protection of worker rights and industrial action. We respect the fact that many people died for us to be able to enjoy these rights.

“But with the rights come the responsibilities and we would like to urge unions and other worker representatives to exercise this responsibility,” said Nxesi.

“It is common cause that the country is now going through one of the most difficult periods occasioned by the pandemic on one hand and the inclement economic conditions that prevailed even before Covid-19 on the other. It is against this background that we appeal to all the players – workers and employers, unions, federations and employer bodies – to handle the sensitive talks with the necessary caution,” he said.

Hostility won’t help economic recovery

Nxesi further appealed to all social partners entering the wage negotiations to work through the issues on the table, saying that hostility would not solve differences, but instead risks escalating the severe economic and social damages that have been brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Cool heads should prevail and the good of the country and our economy should always [be] at the top of mind,” he said.

“After protracted industrial action, we still have to come and sit around the table to resolve our differences, but it is not wise or advisable to play a zero-sum game. We are all invested in this country.”

Read: The country manufacturing the destruction of SA manufacturing is … South Africa

Nxesi added that given the number of unemployed people in SA having increased by 584 000 to 7.8 million compared to the first quarter of 2021, it would be devastating if more people become unemployed when social dialogue would be more fruitful.

According to the wage negotiation update published on Seifsa’s website, the employer body recognises the right of workers to protest, however all absences from work as a consequence of participating in strike action will be treated on the no work, no pay basis.

“In the interim, Seifsa’s negotiating team will continue to keep all channels of communication open with all trade unions in an endeavour to mitigate the impact the strike and the lock-out will have on the industry,” the organisation added.

Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.

COMMENTS   23

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An 8% increase is not unreasonable, in a high inflationary environment.

The article fails to mention, that Numsa employees didn’t receive an increase in 2020.

Numsa has already come down from a 15% increase and has done everything to accommodate Seifsa.

Seifsa needs to step-up and meet the reasonable demands of their employees.

Yes Effy — I think they should strike until they receive at least 20% increases !!!

Effie, are you just here to irritate serious and educated people with your stupid communistic propaganda?
It’s because of people like you that so many people are without work.
I mean for workers who are the lucky one’s having a job, demanding a double inflation increase plus additional perks in very difficult times like these is outrageous to say the least.

Shortage of intelligence again?

This is a very dedicated shill. To stay up to midnight to be the first to post misinformation, or otherwise this guy is not even in South Africa, and posting from North Korea or somewhere.

Again – why don’t Foolias and his girlfriend, Floyd, plus your union mates, start your own companies? Pay your wekkas R2.5m minimum, give them all new GLE company cars and mansions in Sandton. Show us the way, comrade.

In our company (engineering and construction), our last increase was four years ago due to the economic conditions of the country. We all took a 10% cut in the beginning of last year due to business slowing down even further due to the government’s restrictions in response to Covid-19. We’ve accepted this as we believe we’ll get through and nobody’s had to be let go yet. We’ve all, from directors to the cleaners, become much poorer over the last 10 years. Our retirement funds have shrunk in real terms and many of us aren’t able to contribute any longer. Some have left and found other jobs and they’ve not been replaced so we work longer. We work closely with government departments and municipalities and have seen their employees get pay rises and work even less than before. Our municipality closes every Tuesday and Thursday so their offices can be “disinfected”. So I don’t really feel much for Numsa who will just be making things worse for the rest of us. So go break down, kill and destroy to get what you believe you deserve. Live for now and eff the future. That’s our kids’ problem, hey.

Workers seem to be quite useless: if one is unhappy with current pay, surely they can send their CVs out to new prospective employers, resign current job and secure a better paying job elsewhere.

Maybe they are the “unemployable” type(?), and the country will soon welcome them as part of the rising Unemployment stats.

NUMSA is part of the ANC tripartheid alliance, and complicit in the destruction of the SA economy. They have only themselves to blame.

Paternity leave of our wukkers will need to be limited to one wife / lover ,otherwise these guys could be off half the year. I’m in favour of a condom allowance .

That could be a double edged sword as they would then need to acknowledge being the father.

“We demand a living wage for all”.

Does that mean members working in bloated SOE’s can be excluded from the 8% raise?

Buying SA steel is as stupid as buying SA cement!!

Just too expensive.

It will just be a few more years and nothing will be left of their industry anyway. They will then have more reason to dance around a burning tire but no employers to “demand” from.

Local is not so “Lekke”

As consolation prize there is always the CCMA where they can celebrate the swansong of their careers.

The long-term consequences of a “We Demand” attitude can be seen in the 34% and rising unemployment rate.

(My message to strikers: “come on people, don’t be so damn useless, if you’re not happy with your current salary, distribute your updated CV to prospective employers, and secure a new job with higher pay or better working conditions elsewhere. That’s what people normally do, irrespective where you live on the globe.)

Yes!

Its like they want to make an already uncompetitive sector even more uncompetitive.

That is a very well thought out strategy. Hehehee! These guy’s

The myopic policies of the Tripartite Alliance just do not add up. But then again, nothing is supposed to make sense under socialism.

We have this fatal flaw at the heart of our economy. The employer is forced to pay a minimum wage, while he has no guarantee of a minimum price for his produce. The Tripartite Alliance demands a higher wage, without a commensurate demand for an increase in the market value of manufactured goods. Something has to give. The result must be either unemployment or bankruptcy, and bankruptcy leads to unemployment.

This implies that the Tripartite Alliance creates unemployment. The unemployment rate increases with every increase in wage demands. They expropriate jobs without compensation through this mechanism. They have already “nationalized” 80% of jobs among the youth. They are hoarding jobs and leaving people dependent on grants. This negative feedback loop impacts negatively on all employers as taxpayers, leading to more bankruptcies, and more unemployment, and a higher need for social support.

The minimum wage is not too high, but the productivity of labour at that wage is too low. The consumer simply cannot afford the socialist labour unions, because many consumers are already dependent on the social grant. The poor, who are supposed to benefit from social support, are forced to finance the higher salaries of Alliance members! Crazy! They are stealing from their voters to bribe their voters!

This process also expropriates the freedom of choice of consumers who face a shrinking supply of alternatives. Economic realities imply that the minimum wage and increased wage demands punish consumers. The socialist ANC policies turn South Africa into an unemployment and poverty factory. Their very efficient production line spits out unemployed and aggressive people by the millions.

This is how the ignorant and shortsighted voters get exactly what they deserve.

I can understand workers’ frustration when they see how the politicians and leaders who are supposed to represent them enriching themselves through their privileged access to public funds

…..and “our” frustration is: AGAIN they vote for the….(?) You guessed it.

My son works for a company who strictly adheres to the rule that yearly increases are implemented only to what the inflation rate is. You can like it or lump it. What I don’t like about that strict rule is the fact that the inflation rate is skewed. One only have to look at the fuel price increases and some of the food prices to know that the inflation rate is definitely not 3.5%.

When will we learn???
A living wage will never be achieved. Higher minimum wages increase manufacturing and distribution costs and also demand.
What you then get is that prices rise and you are right back where you started, only in a more precarious position, ie labour productivity in terms of value for money dwindles and then imports increase, job losses follow, the demand for foreign currency increases and this your currency falls through the floor.
If you want more money, then find a better job!

End of comments.

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