Hisense Atlantis strike ends

Operations at the Hisense Atlantis consumer electronics and home appliance plant near Cape Town have resumed after management reached an agreement with striking members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

Hisense SA is a subsidiary of the Chinese multinational company.

The strike by about 300 Numsa members started on 16 January and was followed by management instituting a lock-out. By carefully managing supply chains during the strike, Hisense SA was able to ensure that no disruptions were experienced by customers.   

The striking employees had wanted a 15% wage, saying this would align with an industry agreement. 

But according to a statement issued by Hisense, the company maintains its position that it is a non-party to the wage schedule determined by the Metal & Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC). The company further maintains that in 2018 it was paying more than the agreed scheduled rates. This led to a legal interpretation issue which ultimately culminated in the strike, it said.

Following negotiations between the striking workers and management, a two-year plant-level agreement was reached for all direct Hisense employees at the plant.

This agreement, which will remain in force until 1 February, 2022, determines staggered increases over the next two years, with additional incentives being introduced for long-term employees, such as extra leave days each year and bonuses. The agreement also includes the introduction of a third shift system.

"Hisense SA management noted that the engagement with Numsa and the members was constructive and although negotiations were intense, both parties ultimately demonstrated a positive approach to finding a way forward," the company said.

The company said it appreciated the manner in which Numsa conducted itself during the negotiations and also praised the role Tanaya van Meelis of the Department of Trade and Industry played.

For Vuyo Lufele, Numsa's regional secretary in the Western Cape, it was important to send out the message that no violence must be done during the strike.

He told Fin24 on Monday that, while initially Numsa demanded a 15% wage increase across the board, in the end they got 7%.

"We are still satisfied as the company originally offered no increase. The negotiations were about give and take," he said.

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