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Engineering sector workers to take to the streets next week over wages

Salary increase talks between Numsa, Seifsa deadlocks

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
Numsa's sectrery general Irvin Jim has announced that workers will next week take to the streets over a wage dispute.
Numsa's sectrery general Irvin Jim has announced that workers will next week take to the streets over a wage dispute.

Engineering sector workers have announced plans to take to the streets in a nationwide strike next week after wage increase negotiations deadlocked.

The leading union in the sector, National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), recently declared a strike action in the engineering sector after employers stuck to their guns on a 4.4% offer while workers, who initially wanted a 15% increase, dropped their demand to 8% during protracted negotiations.

Numsa secretary Irvin Jim announced on Tuesday afternoon that they would embark on a national march where they would hand over a memorandum of demands to all employer associations.

He said the resolution to embark on a national strike was “a product of the protracted negotiations that have taken place where employers have not delivered a meaningful offer, thus frustrating workers in the engineering sector”. 

Jim said the union and its members had been very flexible about their demands as they understood that negotiations were a process of give-and-take.

“The initial demand was 15% wage increase across the board. But we have now moved for the sake of settling this round of negotiations. We are calling on and demanding that employers must put on the table an 8% increase across the board for the first year, and CPI + 2% improvement factor for the second and third year,” Jim said.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), a national employer federation representing the metal and engineering firms, made a proposal of a three-year agreement for a 4.4% increase for the first year.

The federation also offered a CPI plus 0.5% for the second year, and CPI plus 1% for the third year, which the union wants Seifsa to improve.

“We have rejected this offer from Seifsa. We regard it as an insult, especially given the fact that workers in the engineering sector did not get an increase last year,” Jim said.

He said they were calling on all employer associations to act with speed between now and before the day of the national strike, and return to the table if they wanted to avert the strike.

“The Numsa leadership is available to negotiate and it is available to do everything possible to avert a strike, however, if employers fail to respond and continue to play hide-and-seek by further frustrating the process and deepening the suffering of workers, then Numsa will have no choice but to lead a militant national strike until all worker demands are met,” Jim said.

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