A Numsa led march. File photo: Jeffrey Abrahams

Johannesburg - The National Employers’ Association of SA (Neasa) sustained its opposition to the three-year wage agreement secured in the metals industry on Tuesday.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), along with five additional unions, signed a wage agreement with the Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of SA’s including 10 percent annual increases for the next three years.

The five other unions include Solidarity, United Association of SA (UASA) and the Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union.

But while the engineering sector bargaining council thanked Neasa for its cooperation during the strike, the employer body hit back rejecting process which led to the agreement.

“We are extremely disappointed and dissatisfied,” said Neasa spokesman Jaco Swart.

“This was not a all inclusive - Neasa was completely side-lined. Yet again a back-room deal was concluded between two parties. It is simply not affordable and we will not sign. Any attempt to extend this agreement to our members will be disputed.”

Neasa locked out employees who had participated in the month-long strike from its plants today.

Initial figures put the number of plants affected by Neasa’s lock-out at 67, but would be updated over the coming days, Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said in a radio interview.

Metalworkers union general secretary, Irvin Jim, said Neasa should “approach” Numsa rather than “run around in the media” in order to resolve the impasse.

There are a couple of lessons we should all learn - disputes and strikes can always be resolved if parties are prepared to move from their positions,” Jim told journalists.

“It’s a pity that parties to the bargaining council are prepared to announce that they are not signing the agreement. As Numsa we are not running away from any agreement.

“To the chief executive of Neasa, we say we are not going to run away from dialogue in order to find solutions… There is need for Neasa to approach us.”