Strike may start at ArcelorMittal this week as Numsa issues notice

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Photo: Jaco Marais
Photo: Jaco Marais
  • The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has issued ArcelorMittal SA with a 48-hour notice for a strike following a deadlock in wage talks.
  • The union demands a 10% wage increase across the board. It says ArcelorMittal tabled a final offer of 5% across the board.
  • The strike is set to begin on Wednesday and will include pickets at multiple ArcelorMittal SA operations.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has served ArcelorMittal SA with a 48-hour notice of a strike on Monday evening after reaching a deadlock with the employer at the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council.

A strike at the company is set to begin on Wednesday after the union said its demand for a 10% wage increase across the board fell on deaf ears at the bargaining council's centre for dispute resolution.

ArcelorMittal SA is the largest steel producer on the continent, supplying 60% of the steel used in South Africa. It also exports steel to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Numsa said in a statement that at the heart of the dispute was ArcelorMittal's "refusal" to make a "meaningful offer" to settle in the deadlocked negotiations. 

"The bosses have tabled a final offer of only 5% across the board. They are also offering workers 2% of their salaries in cash as a monthly amount. We reject this proposal. What is a 5% increase for the lowest-paid worker who earns approximately R7 000? It is not much at all," the statement read.

READ | amaBhungane | Numsa at war with itself over investment company

The union said ArcelorMittal employees have not seen "meaningful" wage increases in two years, with a 2% increase "imposed" on them in 2021. The union dismissed the company's claim that ArcelorMittal employees have the best pay scale in the steel sector.

"This is simply not true! Workers at ArcelorMittal SA are exploited and paid very low salaries, considering the size of the organisation. Our members are struggling to make ends meet whilst the greedy bosses rake in obscene profits," the Numsa statement said.

ArcelorMittal SA spokesperson Tami Didiza said the company would respond in due course to the strike notice and claims in the Numsa statement.

The union said it would hold a picket at ArcelorMittal's operations in Newcastle and Pretoria on Wednesday morning when the strike begins.

Numsa also demands a housing allowance, an 80% medical aid contribution from the employer and the scrapping of labour brokers.

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