Johannesburg - Progress was made during the reconvened negotiations between the retail motor industry and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) this week, but an agreement has not been reached to end the strike, which today enters its fifth day.
Negotiations have also deadlocked between Numsa and Solidarity and the New Tyre Manufacturers Employers Association (NTMEA), which represents Bridgestone, Continental Tyres, Goodyear and Apollo Tyres.
Douw van der Walt, the chairman of the NTMEA, confirmed yesterday that negotiations with Numsa had reached a deadlock and companies had “resigned themselves to the possibility of industrial action in the coming weeks”.
This is further bad news for the motor manufacturing industry that only resumed production this week after a three-week strike. Production has been halted at some plants and all are expected to be idle again by next week because of a shortage of local component supplies. By Wednesday, the production of more than 45 000 vehicles worth about R20 billion had been lost because of strikes.
Johan van Zyl, the president of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA, stressed the situation where different sectors in the automotive manufacturing value chain bargained at different times would have to be reviewed because it was not conducive to fostering a stable industrial relations environment necessary to support the realisation of the official vision for the industry, namely the annual production of 1.2 million vehicles by 2020.
Jakkie Olivier, the chief executive and chief negotiator for the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), said yesterday that progress had been made during the negotiations over the past two days in that Numsa had reduced the number of demands from 64 to seven. But he said there were “wide gaps” between the RMI and Numsa on the remaining issues, which he declined to name but confirmed wages was always an issue and Numsa was demanding “double-digit wage increases and more”.
Olivier said a clause, which was aimed at ensuring stability and peace during the duration of the agreement, was a major issue because Numsa wanted collective bargaining at national level but also to be allowed to negotiate at plant level as well as have the right to strike if it could not get an agreement at this level.
“That is having a second bite of the cherry. They must pick at what level they want to negotiate,” he said.
Olivier said the RMI had submitted counter-offers to Numsa and the parties would reconvene on Monday.
He said the RMI remained concerned about the violence, intimidation, victimisation and breaking of rules by striking workers, adding the number and intensity of these incidents had been increasing since the strike started on Monday, with petrol service stations a specific target. “We are considering options, including possibly approaching the courts for an interdict to stop the violence.”
Van der Walt said the negotiations facilitator in the new tyre manufacturing industry had issued a certificate on Wednesday confirming the dispute remained unresolved, which enabled Numsa and Solidarity to legally embark on protected strike action within 48-hours of notice. He said this followed the parties being unable to reach agreement on an array of issues, from wages to specific benefits and conditions of employment.
He said it was regrettable they were unable to agree on a wage agreement after almost six months of negotiations but the NTMEA remained committed to resolving the issues and had agreed to further talks next week. - Business Report