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Numsa gives Amsa deadline to respond to wage demands

The march took place as South Africa is grappling with strike season. Unions are mostly fighting for wage increases saying that the rising inflation rate is hitting their members’ pockets hard, while employers are citing that the economy is struggling. Picture Henk Kruger, ANA.

The march took place as South Africa is grappling with strike season. Unions are mostly fighting for wage increases saying that the rising inflation rate is hitting their members’ pockets hard, while employers are citing that the economy is struggling. Picture Henk Kruger, ANA.

Published May 25, 2022

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THE NATIONAL Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) said yesterday it had given iron and steel mills firm ArcelorMittal SA (Amsa) until today to respond to its wage demands after the union handed over a memorandum of demands to the company.

The march took place as South Africa is grappling with strike season. Unions are mostly fighting for wage increases saying that the rising inflation rate is hitting their members’ pockets hard, while employers are citing that the economy is struggling.

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Numsa members yesterday marched to Amsa’s offices in Vanderbijlpark yesterday. However, the steel firm refused to accept the memorandum from the union. Numsa then called the police to deliver the memorandum on its behalf.

This as Amsa had launched an urgent interdict preventing Numsa from what it termed as “acts of violence and intimidation against its non-striking workers”, and the interdict was granted.

Tami Didiza, Amsa’s group manager, stakeholder engagement and communication, said, “The strike action initiated by Numsa has been marred by numerous acts of violence and intimidation of non-striking employees, despite the strike and picketing rules agreed between the company and the union.

“The company has indicated its concerns to Numsa regarding the breach of these rules as well as the unlawful conduct of its members but, to date, there have been no real or tangible efforts by the union to stop these acts," Didiza said.

Numsa is seeking a 7 percent increase and R5 000 once-off ex-gratia payment, while Amsa has since tabled two alternative final offers, subject to certain conditions, for union consideration these include a 6 percent increase on all remuneration elements, including allowances, standby, and medical aid, plus an R5 000 once-off ex-gratia payment, or a 6.5 percent increase on all remuneration elements, including allowances, standby and medical aid without any cash payment.

In an interview Numsa regional secretary, Sedibeng Kabelo Ramokhathali, said Numsa has communicated with Amsa management its final offer.

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“If management does not agree to our demands, we will go to the drawing board and intensify the strike. But we think the 7 percent and R5 000 increase we have demanded from the management is reasonable. We can’t go below this,” he said.

Ramokhathali said, “I think all parties now want to settle the strike, we are actually in the settlement zone because our demand is 7 percent, and the employer wants to give us 6 percent on the table,” he said.

Amsa’s share price was at 0.66 percent lower at R7.49 yesterday. However, the share price is up 198 percent over three years.

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ArcelorMittal South Africa in February reported its strongest annual results since 2008, which were buoyed by soaring steel prices, and after cutting its debt by two-thirds.

For the year ended December 31, headline earnings of R6.86 billion recovered from a loss of R2.033bn the prior year, while headline earnings per share were R6.15 against headline loss per share of R1.85 for 2020.

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