Johannesburg - Thousands of workers in the retail motor industry are set to down tools today as the three-week-old strike by about 30 000 workers in the motor manufacturing industry was called off yesterday.
This came after a three-day wage strike in the gold sector ended on Friday.
Car workers will return to work today after accepting a revised wage offer from employers including Volkswagen, Ford and Toyota.
“We are officially announcing the end of the nationwide strike and hope our members will go back to work tomorrow [today],” National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim said yesterday.
“At Toyota in Durban and BMW in Pretoria there are some specific issues which make our members unhappy to accept the offer. We are working to resolve these issues.”
A wage increase of 11.5 percent for this year, 10 percent next year and 10 percent in 2015 had been agreed on, Bloomberg reported. Night shift and transport allowances were also part of the settlement.
Numsa and the Automobile Manufacturers Employers’ Association agreed to study an industry medical aid scheme and housing programme.
Johan van Zyl, the president of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa), described the double-digit offer as reasonable and highly competitive compared with settlements in other sectors and relative to inflation.
He stressed that the industry was not only offering a high across-the-board increase but also a transport allowance, increases in shift allowances and short-time allowance.
He said workers would also receive a cash allowance coupled to an additional across-the-board increase to equalise wages in the industry.
The strike scheduled to start today in the retail motor industry follows Numsa last week serving a 48-hour notice of strike action on the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).
The retail motor industry employs about 280 000 people in petrol service stations, vehicle dealerships, body repair shops, component manufacturers and other motor related businesses.
However, Jakkie Olivier, the chief negotiator and chief executive of the RMI, said on Thursday that it was “highly unlikely” all these industry employees would go on strike.
Olivier said Numsa’s strike notice was “a huge disappointment” and untimely because both parties were preparing for the final round of mediation to establish whether a wage agreement could be concluded.
He said industrial action was not to the benefit of either employers or labour, without mentioning its impact on industry, the economy and levels of employment.
Olivier appealed to the leadership of the trade union to act in a responsible manner and to endeavour to seek solutions to this impasse as soon as possible and work towards a settlement that would be beneficial to both parties.
Earlier last week, Olivier said all the issues were still on the table and the parties were “very far apart for so late in the negotiations”.
He said the strike was unlikely to have an impact on motorists refuelling at service stations because owners were legally allowed to hire replacement or “scab” labour to stand in for striking workers.
He doubted motorists would be able to fill up their vehicles themselves because they needed tags to activate and operate the pumps.
Meanwhile, gold sector employees returned to work for the late shift on Friday after warming to the improved wage offer tabled by employers. Their strike started on Tuesday.
Although the settlement was below the National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM’s) demand of a wage adjustment of R2 300 for surface workers and R3 000 for underground staff, it is good news for the struggling gold sector which had said it would lose R349 million a day in revenue and R100m a day in salaries due to the strike.
About 60 000 members of NUM had accepted the improved two-year agreement comprising increases of 8 percent for category four and five employees, including rock drill operators, and 7.5 percent for other employees, backdated to July 1, NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said yesterday.
Employees would receive further inflation-linked increases effective from July 1 next year. In addition, the monthly living out allowance of R1 640 would increase to R2 000 in two increments of R180, on September 1 and again next year, the Chamber of Mines said in its statement on Friday.
The chamber added that the gain share concept initially proposed had been dropped.
“We may not have received the R2 300 wage adjustment we wanted, but if you look at the adjustment in the living out allowance, we are closer to that,” Seshoka said.
Elize Strydom, the Chamber of Mines’ chief negotiator, said the offer was “a little more than employers would have preferred. However, we ultimately took the view that the agreement has helped us prevent a longer period of damaging industrial action.”
The 8 percent raise and higher allowances exceeds the 6.5 percent final offer tabled previously by the Chamber of Mines, which represents AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold, Rand Uranium, Sibanye Gold and Village Main Reef. - Business Report