Unions accept metals wage offer

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LabourCrossing Reuters.

Johannesburg - Both the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity have accepted a wage offer in the metals and engineering sector. 

"The settlement offer has been overwhelmingly and unanimously accepted by our members," Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said.

"This is a massive victory given the pittance offer at the point of deadlock. For this we salute metalworkers."

The new proposal includes a three-year agreement with increases of between eight and 10 percent, depending on whether the workers were high or low earners.

Jim called on workers to report for work from Tuesday.

Trade union Solidarity also accepted the offer, spokesman Marius Croucamp said in a statement.

"The offer comprises salary increases of eight percent to 10 percent in year one, 7.5 percent to 10 percent in year two and seven percent to 10 percent in year three," Croucamp said.

In terms of the proposal, section 37 of the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council collective agreement would remain in place, with a provision that existing company-level agreements stay in force.

According to the employers' associations: "Section 37 protects employers from having to engage in substantive negotiations at plant level, once a deal has been concluded on wages and related conditions of employment at national level."

Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said that a compromise had been reached over section 37, and that Seifsa was satisfied this would protect companies from two-tier bargaining.

He welcomed the end of the strike and thanked Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant for her role in facilitating negotiations.

"It is no exaggeration to say that, had she and her team not been involved in the process, the strike may well be continuing," he said in a statement.

"It is now incumbent on all stakeholders in the metals and engineering sector to work co-operatively together to grow the sector and to ensure that it is internationally competitive."

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

The union announced on July 13 that it had lowered its wage demand to 10 percent.

The labour department and Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration facilitated talks between Seifsa and unions earlier this month when negotiations between the parties deadlocked. - Sapa

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