Numsa strike resolve strong amid ‘final’ wage offer withdrawal

2014-07-15 20:01

Seifsa’s withdrawal of its “final” wage offer in the metals and engineering industries has not weakened Numsa’s resolve.

“Seifsa has withdrawn its latest offer. This obviously will harden attitudes,” said National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) deputy general secretary Karl Cloete today.

Numsa has been on strike in the two industries since July 1.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) made a conditional final offer of a 10% wage increase in 2014, 9.5% in 2015, and 9% in 2016.

On Sunday, Numsa rejected this, but indicated it would accept a 10% increase each year for the next three years.

Seifsa reverted to its previous offer of a 10% increase in 2014 and 9% in 2015 and 2016.

For higher-earning artisans on level A, the offer remained 8% in 2014, 7.5% in 2015, and 7% in 2016.

The National Employers’ Association of SA has offered an across-the-board increase of 8%, subject to a lower entry-level wage for new employees and measures to make the industry more flexible.

It argues these conditions would help stimulate business and economic growth, and consequently create jobs.

Cloete said the union’s national strike committee was considering how the strike could be “intensified” in light of recent developments.

Earlier, Seifsa CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said the organisation had exhausted its mandate.

Today, Seifsa published a picketing rules document on its website.

According to the website, the rules were finalised between all the parties yesterday at a session involving the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Seifsa could not immediately confirm whether all unions had agreed on the picketing rules.

Cloete rejected any suggestion that Numsa had agreed to, or was bound by, the document.

“Numsa is party to no agreement ... there is no agreement,” he said.

The document reads: “Picketers must conduct themselves in a peaceful, unarmed and lawful manner”.

It prohibits picketers from preventing other workers, customers or service providers, from entering the employer’s premises.

Employers could not hinder a lawful picket, nor intimidate or threaten workers for taking part in a picket.

They were required to provide water and toilet facilities to picketers, and make telephone and fax facilities available to union shop stewards.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini today said strike-related violence had eased off this week.

“In this past few days we didn’t experience cases of violence. It’s better than last week.”

Last Tuesday alone, 53 people were arrested for strike-related offences in Gauteng.

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