Metal employers to maintain lock-outs

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Numsa StrikersBlue INDEPENDENT MEDIA National Union of Metalworkers march in this file photo. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - The National Employers' Association (Neasa) of SA's members will continue their lock-out of workers who participated in the recent metal industry protest, despite threats, it said on Thursday.

The association was adamant the decision by its members to lock-out workers would stand, despite threats from both trade union Numsa and union federation Cosatu, spokeswoman Sya van der Walt-Potgieter said in a statement.

She said the Congress of SA Trade Unions in the Western Cape had threatened to close down companies participating in the lock-out.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) had threatened to take Neasa to court if it did not suspend the lock-out of its members.

Van der Walt-Potgieter said the lock-out was legal and enjoyed the same constitutional protection as the right to strike.

Neasa chief executive Gerhard Papenfus said companies in the metal industry had endured a violent four-week strike. Employees had been prevented through violence and intimidation from working.

“There were instances where employees were dragged out of offices and assaulted.”

Numsa stood for a one-sided form of democracy.

“They are very quick to claim the benefits of their version of democracy and are very quick to point out any so-called undemocratic behaviour.”

Papenfus said the differences would not be resolved through threats and legal action, but through appropriate channels.

On Tuesday, six unions in the metals and engineering sector signed a wage deal with most employers.

Neasa refused to sign the offer, saying it had been sidelined in the negotiation process facilitated by the labour department.

As a result, Neasa, which had 22 members and employed about 70,000 workers, continued its lock-out.

Over 200,000 Numsa members in the metal and engineering sector downed tools on July 1, demanding a salary increase of 12 percent, down from their pre-strike demand of 15 percent.

They then revised their demand to 10 percent.

They also demanded a R1000 housing allowance and a total ban on labour brokers.

In terms of the new wage deal, workers would get increases of between eight and 10 percent, depending on whether they were high or low earners. - Sapa

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