Numsa strike hits building sector

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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 metal sector strike has disrupted the supply of building materials to contractors, Master Builders SA (MBSA) said on Wednesday.

“Work has slowed down substantially on building sites as MBSA members are deprived of essential building components, such as steel plates, framework, pipes, windows and doors, or any other metal component produced by factories affected by the Numsa strike,” said chief executive Tumi Dlamini in a statement.

“The plumbing industry has reported a critical shortage of geysers, and the piling sector, which relies heavily on steel reinforcement for foundation work, is struggling to obtain supplies.”

She said there was intimidation outside factories, which meant MBSA members could not collect roof sheeting and structural steel.

“The aluminium sector is struggling to supply building contractors with materials for windows, fenestration, and cladding.

“The increasing woes of the building industry have been well-documented and this new setback could well be the last straw for many struggling contractors,” she said.

National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members in the metal and engineering sector downed tools on July 1, initially demanding a salary increase of 12 percent, dropped from their pre-strike demand of 15 percent, a R1000 housing allowance, and a total ban on labour brokers.

The union announced on Sunday it had lowered its wage demand to 10 percent.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) made a conditional final offer of a 10 percent wage increase in 2014, 9.5 percent in 2015, and nine percent in 2016.

On Sunday, Numsa rejected this, but indicated it would accept a 10 percent increase each year for the next three years.

Seifsa then reverted to its previous offer of a 10 percent increase in 2014 and nine percent in 2015 and 2016.

For higher-earning artisans on level A, the offer remained eight percent in 2014, 7.5 percent in 2015, and seven percent in 2016.

The National Employers' Association of SA has offered an across-the-board increase of eight percent, subject to a lower entry-level wage for new employees and measures to make the industry more flexible.

It argues these conditions would help stimulate business.

Seifsa chief executive Kaizer Nyatsumba said on Wednesday that the strike cost the industry R300 million per day and was affecting related sectors like auto manufacturing.

Dlamini said any solidarity strikes would harm the entire economy.

Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said on Wednesday that the union was considering a secondary strike at all companies linked with the metals and engineering sector.

The employer and the union were expected to meet Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The parties would meet at the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council on Thursday. - Sapa



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