SA braces for more strikes

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BR NUMSA 0034

Reuters.

The National Union of Metalworkers striking workers march in central Johannesburg. The union wants a 12 percent salary increase, the scrapping of labour brokers, and a one-year bargaining agreement. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - The country is likely to see additional strikes next week if parties negotiating wage deals in the metal and engineering sector do not reach a deal soon.

About 220 000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) have been on strike since the start of the month.

Numsa is now planning a number of pickets and protests in other sectors to put pressure on employers to settle on a double digit increase.

Cosatu in the Western Cape yesterday pledged solidarity with Numsa, saying it will down tools in a secondary strike. Cosatu’s structures in other provinces are likely to follow as the federation and its affiliates have been vocal in their support for Numsa’s mass action to earn a “decent” wage.

“The demands of the metalworkers are eminently reasonable and represent a benchmark that all other workers should be demanding… Cosatu could be ready to go on legal support strike action next Tuesday,” the federation said.

Numsa and employers went back to the negotiating table yesterday.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant attempted to facilitate a deal on Wednesday night as parties were deadlocked.

She told a press conference following her budget speech that she wanted them to explain “what has happened and what went wrong”. She said: “We have to intervene as government to make sure this comes to an end.”

 

The sector has already taken a massive knock. There are about 10 000 large and small companies in metal and engineering.

But its impact is also being felt in car manufacturing and building materials. A secondary strike will only put additional pressure on the already ailing economy.

“All this damage to the economy is because some small companies want a clause in the engineering agreement that effectively bans union activity. This is undemocratic and against the spirit of the Labour Relations Act,” Cosatu in the Western Cape said. - The Star


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