Metals employers ‘reluctantly’ accept government proposal on strike

2014-07-22 12:52

South Africa’s main metals employer body has “reluctantly” accepted a government proposal to raise wages by up to 10%.

Their agreement raises hopes of an end to a strike sapping the continent’s most advanced economy.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) said striking unions had until Friday to accept the offer.

However, it warned that the proposal could lead to heavy job losses.

More than 200 000 workers affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) downed tools on July 2, demanding 12 - 15% wage increases.

The stoppage has disrupted the supply of car parts and affected work at two crucial power stations under construction for state utility Eskom.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant proposed that Seifsa could agree to raise wages by between 7% and 10% over the next three years.

This would “inevitably lead to massive job losses”, said Seifsa Chief Executive Kaizer Nyatsumba. Companies would not be able to pass on the increases to their customers and would seek to cut costs.

The Federation also said it would not sign the agreement unless parts of South Africa’s current wage negotiation guidelines were amended to scrap two-tier bargaining at the plant and national level.

It was not immediately clear if Numsa and other smaller unions would accept the deal.

The industrial action has dealt a further blow to the ailing

South African economy, coming almost immediately after a five-month strike by miners in the platinum sector.

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