Numsa Secretary general Irvin Jim of Numsa said employers and the Consolidated Employers Organisation had to quickly accede to the new wages. Picture: Bheki Radebe.
Numsa Secretary general Irvin Jim of Numsa said employers and the Consolidated Employers Organisation had to quickly accede to the new wages. Picture: Bheki Radebe.

Numsa strike ends with 6% wage deal

By Banele Ginindza Time of article published Oct 22, 2021

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The prolonged metals and engineering sector strike, which has cost the economy more than R600 million, has ended after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) yesterday announced it would accept a 6.6 percent incremental wage hike over three-years from employer organisation Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa)

Secretary general Irvin Jim of Numsa, South Africa's biggest metalworkers union, said employers, the National Employers Association of South Africa (Neasa) and the Consolidated Employers Organisation had to quickly accede to the new wages that would give workers R52.52 per hour in the first year, R55.67 in the second year and R59.01 in year three.

Seifsa chief executive Lucio Trentini said the industry had lost more than R600m in lost revenue while workers had lost in excess of R300m in the 13 days of the strike.

"We are happy that Numsa has agreed to the offer. It is a commitment we will be honouring. It has been a bruising three weeks for all of us and it is time now to put everything behind us and rebuild the sector," Trentini said.

Trentini said employers who had not been part of the bargaining still had provision to apply for exemption to the deal, but that he hoped the industry would ultimately work together in the interest of growing the sector.

The agreement comes with backpay for workers dating to July first, though a compromise from the demand for 8 percent.

The union initially demanded 15 percent, which had been whittled down to the 6 percent that will give entry level workers on Grade I, currently at R49.50 an increase to R52.52 in the first year and R55.27 in the second year. Workers on the middle G grade at R51.55 an hour now will go up to R54.75, R58.03 and R61.62 in the third year.

The lowest paid workers will effectively receive an increment of R478 while those on the upper tiers, who will get an increment of between 5 percent and 5.5 percent, will receive an increment of R500.

Jim said, "We are asking the Department of Labour, that as we sign the agreement this afternoon, they should work speedily in the interest of the workers, they must gazette it quickly. This agreement is extended to all workers in the industry. It is up to the conservative employer unions to tell us if they accept this or workers will vote with their feet," Jim said.

He said,."Our workers will go back to work on Friday, the latest date for returning to work will be Monday the 25th. If the other employer associations fail to  inform us of their positions, we will not held responsible," Jim said, accusing the other employer organisation of not fairly bargaining in negotiations during the strike and also offering paltry R4.28 by Neasa and R4.43 by Seifsa

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