Numsa meets over metal wage talks

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numsa strikers

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

A Numsa led march. File photo: Jeffrey Abrahams

Johannesburg - Numsa was meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss negotiations in the metals and engineering industries, the union said.

“This NEC (national executive committee) is to receive feedback from the DOL (department of labour) facilitated negotiations,” National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) spokesman Castro Ngobese said just before 5pm.

After this, all nine Numsa regions would meet to give members feedback and decide on mandates for what should constitute a resolution of the strike.

The labour department has facilitated meetings between Numsa and employers' associations in an attempt to resolve the strike, which began last Tuesday.

Ngobese said he could not disclose details of those meetings.

Numsa wants a 15 percent wage increase and a R1000 housing allowance in a one-year bargaining agreement.

On Thursday, 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.

On Monday, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant's spokesman Mokgadi Pela said the parties were close to an agreement.

“We are trying to iron out some sticky issues,” he said.

Seifsa and Neasa have complained the strike has been marked by violence and intimidation.

On Tuesday, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega's office said that in Gauteng alone 53 people were arrested on a single day for strike-related offences.

“The national commissioner does not object to anyone exercising their right to protest, but the law clearly states that this must be done procedurally, unarmed and in a peaceful manner,” Lt-Col Solomon Makgale said.

Phiyega had requested a meeting with Numsa leaders to discuss her concerns about violence accompanying the strike.

In Rustenburg, North West, 13 strikers were arrested on Tuesday when a picket outside an engineering centre turned violent. Protesters threw stones at the building and broke a number of windows.

Also on Tuesday, Ngobese urged union members to be disciplined while striking.

“As we are engaged in an indefinite national strike, we call on Numsa members participating in the national strike to exercise maximum discipline and not to involve themselves in violent acts of any kind,” he said in a statement.

Sapa


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