Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) denied on Friday that it had rejected the latest offer from employers in the metal and engineering sector.
“We are still consulting. By end of business today we will be in a position to tell whether the offer is rejected or not,” union president Andrew Chirwa said.
He denied media reports that the offer had been rejected.
“Reuters interviewed workers in Ekurhuleni who told them they rejected the offer. This is not the position of the union nationally.”
He explained he had earlier told the SABC that from reports it appeared the offer had been rejected, but this was not the position of the union.
“The union will give an update at a press conference on Sunday,” he said.
Numsa members in the metal and engineering sector downed tools on July 1 demanding a salary hike of 12 percent with effect from July 1, and a R1000 housing allowance in a one-year bargaining agreement.
Their demand was originally for 15 percent.
The union further demanded the total ban of labour brokers.
The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) tabled a three-year wage offer of between eight and 10 percent for different levels of workers in the first year.
The first category of worker was offered seven percent in 2015
and 2016, while the others were offered nine percent in the second year, and eight percent in the final year.
The employers' organisation, representing 27 independent employer associations with a membership of over 2000 companies, also scrapped its demand for the wages of entry-level workers to be halved.
The National Employers' Association of SA (Neasa) has offered eight percent, subject to an agreement on the reduction of the entry-level wage.
Seifsa said on Friday that the offer it tabled was a final offer.
“We made it plain to the union that Tuesday’s was the very last offer to be made by Seifsa, and that it would be removed from the table if it were not accepted,” chief executive Kaizer Nyatsumba said.
“We are very disappointed that, despite having made our very best offer on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to end the strike, Numsa has not yet got back to us with a response.”
Nyatsumba dismissed as propaganda Neasa's comment that Numsa had rejected the employers' latest offer.
“For quite some time now, (Gerhard) Papenfus has been making all sorts of allegations against a number of stakeholders, among them us. He appears to be absolutely desperate to attract attention to himself and his organisation, including through making wild and unsubstantiated claims against others,” he said.
Naesa chief executive Gerhard Papenfus said in a statement on Friday that news reports indicated that Seifsa's latest wage offer of 10
percent had been rejected.
He said for two decades Seifsa's weak approach had done irreparable damage to the industry, betraying small business.
“You were doing this whilst you represented less than 20 percent of the employers in the metal industry, thus a hopeless minority organisation, but you did this merely because you had the support of trade unions and big business, or rather yielded under the pressure of both. In this process you have betrayed the interests of small business.”
Nyatsumba said that although he had seen reports in the media quoting anonymous sources saying Numsa had rejected Seifsa’s final offer, he had not received any official response from the metalworkers' union. - Sapa