Deadlock continues over motor sector wages, talks to resume in two weeks

Union representatives and three employer formations have agreed to continue negotiating later in September, following threats of industrial action in the motor industry.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Monday met with the National Employer's Association of South Africa (Neasa), the Retail Motor Industry Organisation and the Fuel Retailer's Association, under the auspices of the Motor Industry Bargaining Council, in an attempt to break a deadlock in wage negotiations.

Among other things, Numsa demands a 12% wage increase across the board, and transport allowances for petrol station workers that work late hours and earn low wages.

Dispute declared

Neasa's motor industry collective bargaining coordinator, Gerald Leith, told Fin24 that there had been no breakthrough in talks between the association and Numsa, and that negotiations would continue in two weeks.

"After ten days of negotiations, no progress has been made, with Numsa having declared a dispute. Parties are to resume the negotiation process on September 23, 2019," said Leith via email.

Lieth said the current economic climate and challenges affecting the motor retail sector would not allow the association to meet Numsa's demands.

'Unrealistic'

"Neasa cannot meet Numsa's demand for a 12% across the board wage increase on the basis of affordability. The union's demand in respect of wages is three times the current inflation rate, which is unrealistic considering the current economic climate," Leith said.

Last week on Thursday, Numsa announced the dispute, which led to the matter being referred to the bargaining council.

Deadlock

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told Fin24 that while unions wanted the matter addressed with urgency, circumstances forced the negotiations to be pushed to later in the month.

"At the end of the meeting, we remained in deadlock. It is an urgent issue and we asked to meet next Monday. But they asked to meet at the end of the month. A negotiation is about give and take. We have placed demands, including travel allowance for petrol station workers," said Hlubi-Majola.

Hlubi-Majola said the last round of negotiations took place last week, which also ended in a deadlock. She said an update would be provided soon regarding a mandate.

According to Numsa, the motor retail sector sector represents workers in components companies, petrol stations, and car dealerships, and employs approximately 306 000 workers.

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