Numsa rubbishes claims of violence

By Drum Digital
01 July 2014

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA has dismissed claims that some of its striking members were involved in intimidation and violence.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) on Tuesday dismissed claims that some of its striking members were involved in intimidation and violence.

The Star newspaper's afternoon edition reported that a worker from a metal company in Selby Industrial Park claimed strikers vandalised their building.

"They came at about 8.15am and broke the building's windows and gate," the unnamed worker was quoted as saying.

Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese dismissed the allegations as lies.

"That is the worst form of propaganda," Ngobese said.

"Anyone that says that the strike was violent is promoting violence."

Around 220,000 members of Numsa in the steel and metal sector began an indefinite strike for a double digit wage increase on Tuesday.

The union's members marched in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, George, and Cape Town.

"The marches in other cities also went very well. We are satisfied with the turnout," he said.

In Johannesburg, Congress of SA Trade Unions' general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi joined Numsa president Andrew Chirwa in handing a memorandum of demands to officials from the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council, and Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA.

Numsa wanted a 12 percent salary increase, the scrapping of labour brokers, and a one-year bargaining agreement.

Following the handover, Vavi told the strikers that a 12 percent wage increase was a compromise.

"We want 15 percent... asijiki nge 15 percent (we are not turning back on 15 percent)," he said.

A deadlock in negotiations led to a strike notice from Numsa, as well as the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers' Union, and the General Industries Workers' Union of SA.

Employers have tabled a three-year wage settlement offer of between seven and eight percent for different levels of workers in the first year, and CPI-linked increases for 2015 and 2016.

Ngobese said they were willing to continue negotiations with employers.

"We have been saying our doors are open. The ball is now in the employer's court," he said.

"They should present a decent offer to our members."

Ngobese said the union wanted to ensure its members received a living wage which would allow them to support themselves and their families given the high cost of living.

Source : Sapa

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