Cosatu takes to the streets demanding change in the metal sector
Share this article:
THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) played to a muted gallery yesterday in its show of strength to press the government for fiscal policy changes, investment in state-owned enterprises, increased private sector capital, stronger collective bargaining and decisive action against corruption.
This as parties already in entanglement, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and employer organisations in the metals and engineering sectors, said they were talking more with mutual feeling to resolve a strike that kicked off on Tuesday this week.
Cosatu had cautiously asked some members to stay at home in deference to Covid-19 protocols and thus saw low turnouts at its marches held in major cities including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Mahikeng and in KwaZulu-Natal.
Cosatu president Zingisa Losi called for an end to the austerity measures at state-owned enterprises and more job creation if the economic recovery was to benefit workers.
The demonstrations, while vibrant, belied the strength and numbers of South Africa’s biggest organised labour movement.
In another development, Seifsa chief executive Lucio Trentini told Business Report that there had been a lot of engagement with Numsa since the strike began and, though there were no firm commitments of either party's offerings, it was good that they were talking more.
He said employers were concerned about increasing reports of protesters turning violent, damage to employer property and the intimidation of workers opting to honour their duty calls.
Trentini said employers had budged from the stance that had brought on the strike but he could not divulge details as they were still at the negotiating table.
“Progress has been made. We are not there yet by we are encouraged that Numsa and ourselves are showing some compromise. If we do not all compromise, the strike will go on for longer. It is promising that, over the next couple of days, we may perhaps all get back to what we need to do, which is important for the economy, employers and workers,” he said.
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola confirmed that the parties were sitting more and longer around the table and that the language on both sides was of compromise.
“We think and hope that we will get closer to finding each other. We are trying to reach a settlement,” she said.
Workers are demanding an 8 percent salary increase across the board with plus 2 percent consumer price index (CPI) benefits ,while the employer has offered a 4.4 percent hike with staggered CPI increases over the three-year bargaining period.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE