Union welcomes metal employers’ offer

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BR Numsa 057 Simphiwe Mbokazi. 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 - It is hoped the latest wage offer made by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) to end the ongoing metal sector strike will be accepted, labour union Solidarity said on Tuesday.

“We think that Seifsa's latest offer is fair and we are convinced that our members will also welcome it,” metal and engineering spokesman Marius Croucamp said in a statement.

He said the National Employers Organisation of SA (Neasa) had offered a final wage increase of eight percent across the board.

“This offer is favourable as it is higher than the current rate of inflation. We are positive that our members will also see it in this light.”

It would be in the industry's best interests for trade unions to accept the final offer and for operations to commence as soon as possible, Croucamp said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Seifsa said it had “reluctantly” accepted the labour department's wage proposal to end the strike.

“Seifsa has reluctantly accepted Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant's proposal to offer wage increases of 10 percent to low-level employees over the next three years,” it said in a statement.

“A slim majority of employer associations...(agreed) on condition that the offer is accepted by the unions not later than Friday.”

Seifsa said its acceptance was conditional.

The new proposal included a three-year agreement with increases of between eight and 10 percent, depending on whether the workers were higher or lower earners.

The labour department and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) facilitated talks between Seifsa and unions, after negotiations between the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the employer body deadlocked.

Over 200,000 Numsa members in the metal and engineering sector downed tools on July 1, demanding a salary increase of 12 percent, dropped from their pre-strike demand of 15 percent.

They also demanded a R1000 housing allowance, and a total ban on labour brokers.

The union announced on July 13 that it had lowered its wage demand to 10 percent.

Numsa on Tuesday said it was holding a special national executive committee meeting in Johannesburg where it would consider the latest wage offer proposed by the labour department.

“(We) will solicit a fresh mandate from members,” the union said in a statement. - Sapa

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