Numsa ready to strike indefinitely

Johannesburg - Workers in the metal and steel industries are ready to strike indefinitely, like their counterparts in the platinum mining sector, they said on Tuesday.

“We can go on for months like the mineworkers... this is for our welfare and that of our children, and future generations too,” said one worker, Mapula Seale, 48, during a protest in Newtown, Johannesburg.

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. Credit: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Wearing a National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) T-shirt and a red bandana, Seale said employers in the country did not act until there was a full-blown strike.

“Workers in Marikana showed us that patience and resilience is needed to achieve what one is fighting for,” she said, referring to platinum mineworkers in the North West.

Seale, a mother of three, works at a company in the engineering sector that supplies car ignition systems.

She was accompanied by Lorraine Mkhize, whose employer, a steel manufacturing company, supplies Eskom and Telkom with steel.

She said she took home about R3800 every month.

“I am drowning as I try to pay school fees and put food on the table. We want the 12 percent, and we are going nowhere until we get it,” Mkhize said.

Thousands of Numsa members converged in Newtown on the first day of their strike.

They intended marching to the Metal Industries Bargaining Council offices in the CBD to hand over a memorandum of demands.

Their counterparts in Cape Town, George, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and East London are holding similar protests.

Numsa, the majority union in the sector, wants a 12 percent salary increase, the scrapping of labour brokers, and a one-year bargaining agreement.

A deadlock in negotiations led to a strike notice from Numsa, as well as the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers' Union, and the General Industries Workers' Union of SA.

Employers have tabled a three-year wage settlement offer of between seven and eight percent for different levels of workers in the first year, and CPI-linked increases for 2015 and 2016. - Sapa