130714 NUMSA leaders briefing the media at their offices in Johannesburg,(L) NUMSA President Andrew Chirwa and Secretary general Irvin Jim.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 3

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will meet employers in the engineering and metal sector on Monday in a bid to resolve the two-week strike, general secretary Irvin Jim said.

“The meeting is for the employer to understand the settlement,” he said.

Numsa members went on strike on July 1, initially demanding a salary increase of 12 percent, dropped from their pre-strike demand of 15 percent; a R1000 housing allowance and a total ban on labour brokers.

The union lowered its wage demand to 10 percent at the weekend.

“In negotiations you give and take,” Jim said, explaining the union's sudden lowering of its wage demands.

“We want double digits and it starts at 10. It is up to the employer to settle, the ball is in their court,” he said.

Employer body, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa), tabled a three-year wage offer of between eight and 10 percent for different levels of workers in the first year.

The first category of worker was offered seven percent in 2015 and 2016, while the others were offered nine percent in the second year, and eight percent in the final year.

Jim said the union feared being trapped in multi-year agreements.

“We are saying if you want a three-year deal let it be in ascending order: 10 percent in the first year, 11 percent in the second and 12 percent in the third year,” he said, emphasising the latest demand was the union's final position.

Jim accused employers of misleading the public by suggesting they had given workers a double-digit increase.

“The truth is that employers want to secure a three-year agreement and they are only offering 10 percent in the first year.

“When they made an improvement, it was an offer of an extra 0.5 percent, meaning the offer of employers is currently 10 percent for the first year, 9.5 percent for the second year, and nine percent for the third,” he said.

“If the employer wants to settle for 10 percent let it be for one year.”

He said some of the issues that made negotiation “difficult” were the employers' demand to hire new employees at a lower pay rate, as well as labour brokers.

He said the union wanted a total ban on the use of labour brokers and was opposed to central negotiations being moved to plant level. - Sapa