Agreement to end Numsa strike ‘close’

2014-07-08 08:25

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Parties are close to reaching an agreement that will bring an end to the metals and engineering sector strike.

“Parties are very close to an agreement. We are trying to iron out some sticky issues,” Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant’s spokesperson Mokgadi Pela said.

There was an all-day meeting yesterday with the employers and it would be followed by one with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

“The meeting will go well into the night. Talks are at sensitive stage,” he said.

Pela refused to give further details of the meeting, saying he did not want to pre-empt the outcome.

On Sunday, Pela said the “sticky issues” were around labour broking, the youth wage subsidy and housing.

Numsa members in the metal and engineering sector went on strike on July 1 demanding a 15% wage increase and a R1 000 housing allowance in a one-year bargaining agreement. The union also demanded that the use of labour brokers should cease.

On Thursday, the employers’ organisation – the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA – tabled a three-year wage offer of between 8% and 10% for different levels of workers in the first year.

The first category of worker was offered 7% in 2015 and 2016, while the others were offered 9% in the second year, and 8% in the final year.

Earlier on Monday, the National Employers’ Association of SA (Neasa) said talks to end the wage deadlock had failed to produce a solution. CEO Gerhard Papenfus said the employer body met Numsa on Friday in bilateral negotiations in an attempt to find a resolution.

At the meeting, Neasa confirmed to Numsa its current position that any wage offer was subject to an agreement on the establishment of a reduced entry-level wage in respect of new entries and the adoption of measures to make the industry more flexible, he said.

“It is, however, disappointing that Numsa does not even want to discuss these issues. Without an agreement on these Neasa proposals, we simply cannot see our way open to offer any wage increases,” he said.

Neasa has offered 8%, subject to an agreement for entry-level workers’ wages to be lowered and measures to make the industry more flexible.

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