Wage deal 'a product of sweat and bitter struggles' – Irvin Jim

2014-07-28 20:38

The strike in the metals and engineering sector has ended after both the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity accepted a wage offer.

"We are pleased to inform the public and the country at large that the latest offer is a product of sweat and bitter struggles by our toiling workers for a living wage," said Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim today.

"The settlement offer has been overwhelmingly and unanimously accepted by our members. This is a massive victory given the pittance offer at the point of deadlock. For this we salute metalworkers."

The new proposal includes a three-year agreement with increases of between 8 and 10%, depending on whether the workers were high or low earners.

Jim said that a national minimum wage should be introduced in the country to avoid strikes and to ensure workers get paid a living wage.

He called on workers to report for work from tomorrow and asked employers to give workers until Thursday to return to work. Trade union Solidarity also accepted the offer, said spokesperson Marius Croucamp. "The offer comprises salary increases of 8% to 10% in year one, 7.5% to 10% in year two and 7% to 10% in year three," he said. Meanwhile, the National Employers Association of SA (Neasa) said it would continue with a lock-out of striking workers tomorrow.

"In view of the fact that unions refused to address Neasa's demands in these negotiations, Neasa employer members may continue to lock out workers who engaged in the strike," said the association.

"This arrangement will continue until Neasa's demands are met."

Neasa demanded that negotiations were reduced to a reduced entry level wage, an improved exemptions policy to allow for improved flexibility and an eight percent across the board increase.

Neasa said it would release a full statement tomorrow.

Jim said Nearsa should ensure that they implemented the agreement and if they failed to do so they would violate the agreement by employers.

"There will be no justification for employers to hold back what is due and what these workers deserve," he said.

The DA welcomed the end to the strike and applauded the union and employers for reaching a settlement.

With the strike now over, we must also take a moment to reflect on the state of our nation's labour relations," said DA MP Ian Ollis.

"The DA remains committed to striking a balance between workers' constitutionally guaranteed right to engage in lawful strike action and preserving the rule of law for the safety of all South Africans."

The agreement is set to be signed at the Lakes Hotel, in Benoni tomorrow at 2pm.

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