Numsa unyielding on strike demands

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numsa strikers INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS A Numsa led march. File photo: Jeffrey Abrahams

Johannesburg - Seifsa's withdrawal of its “final” wage offer in the metals and engineering industries would not weaken Numsa's resolve, the union said on Tuesday.

“Seifsa has withdrawn its latest offer. This obviously will harden attitudes,” deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has been on strike in the industries since July 1.

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 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 and economic growth, and consequently create jobs.

Cloete said the union's national strike committee was considering how the strike could be “intensified” in light of recent developments.

Earlier, Seifsa CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said in a statement the organisation had exhausted its mandate.

On Tuesday Seifsa published a picketing rules document on its website.

According to the website the rules were finalised between all the parties on Monday at a session involving the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Seifsa could not immediately confirm whether all unions had agreed on the picketing rules.

Cloete rejected any suggestion that Numsa had agreed to, or was bound by, the document.

“Numsa is party to no agreement... there is no agreement,” he said.

The document reads: “Picketers must conduct themselves in a peaceful, unarmed and lawful manner”.

It prohibits picketers from preventing other workers, customers or service providers, from entering the employer's premises. Employers could not hinder a lawful picket, nor intimidate or threaten workers for taking part in a picket. They were required to provide water and toilet facilities to picketers, and make telephone and fax facilities available to union shop stewards.

Police spokesman Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said on Tuesday that strike-related violence had eased off this week.

“In this past few days we didn't experience cases of violence. It's better than last week.”

Last Tuesday alone, 53 people were arrested for strike-related offences in Gauteng.


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