State may intervene if strike talks deadlock

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. (Treasury)
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. (Treasury)
Cape Town - The economic fallout of the strike by over 200 000 workers in the metal and engineering industries cannot be quantified at this stage, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said on Wednesday.

"We are not able to quantify the one that has just ended. How do we quantify the one that has not even [taken place] but it is going to have an impact, no doubt about that," said Nene, who was speaking on the sidelines of a briefing to parliament's finance portfolio committee.

Nene said both the strike in the platinum mining sector, which ended a week ago, and the current industrial action by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) would have an effect on revenue projects.

Officials of the SA Revenue Service told MPs they expected to collect revenue of close to a R1trn in the tax season which officially opened on Tuesday.

The effect the strikes could have on revenue collection could not be confirmed for some time. However, the government still expects to meet its revenue collection targets.

Nene said government would allow Numsa and employers to continue wage talks, but suggested it would consider stepping in should the impasse continue.

"With the existing industrial labour relations laws that we have, government is not part of those negotiations, but government can actually create an enabling environment in order to get the parties talking, and I would imagine government would step in at the right time, but we would allow the process to take its course," Nene said.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant chaired a marathon meeting between employers and Numsa on Monday night.

Numsa has revised its wage demands down from 15% to 12%, while employers have moved from an offer of 8% to 8.5%.


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