Strikers demands ‘reasonable’

2011-07-06 07:02

The demands of striking engineering workers are “reasonable”, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA said today.

“Our demands are simple, reasonable and affordable,” said spokesperson Castro Ngobese.

He said the strike would continue indefinitely as Numsa was waiting for employers to approach workers with a wage offer.

Ngobese criticised employers for “negotiating via the media” instead of approaching the unions directly.

Refusal to meet strikers’ demands was evidence that the Steel and Engineering Industries’ Federation of SA (Seifsa) wanted to maintain the inequities of apartheid, he said.

Strikers would continue to stage protests outside their workplaces until an agreement could be reached.

At the weekend, Numsa announced that its members would embark on rolling mass action in demand of a 13% salary increase. Employers in the sector were offering 7%.

The strike started on Monday after the Labour Court’s weekend dismissal of an application for an interdict to stop the strike, brought by the Plastic Converters’ Association.

Several trade unions, representing about 170 000 workers, embarked on a countrywide strike, with a massive protest march in Johannesburg on Monday.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) came out in support of the striking workers, saying that if their actions failed, it would mobilise solidarity action.

Numsa demands include a ban on labour brokers.

On Tuesday, Seifsa said it was focusing on problems including the “devastating effects” of the global recession on its members, escalating domestic input costs, high employment costs, limited available capital, a weak skills base, unreliable and expensive logistics and the high price of power.

It said import substitution had become “commonplace” and retrenchments had increased sharply since February.

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