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Durban - The SA Engineers and Founders Association (Saefa) has slammed the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) for holding the wage talks to ransom and demanding a wage increase that was far above the country’s inflation rate.

Numsa’s secretary-general Irvin Jim issued a warning on Tuesday that the union intended to take industrial action to “shut down” the country’s engineering sector.

Saefa hit back yesterday and said that it seemed that Numsa did not really have the desire to avoid strike action, despite the massive financial repercussions this would have on all employees in the sector.

Saefa executive director Gordon Angus said the move by the union was not unexpected, but it was entirely unnecessary.

Read also:  Saftu fully behind Numsa's wage battle in engineering sector 

“Saefa has been aware of Numsa’s apparent desire to initiate strike action, seemingly at any cost as evidenced by their unwillingness to participate meaningfully in any of the dispute meetings thus far,” Angus said.

'Absurd offer'

Jim claimed that the employers were imposing a strike on to them by forcing them into this undesirable position because of the absurd offer they have placed on the table.

“We are calling on every concerned stakeholder to knock sense to the intransigent group of employers that have been frustrating the process of negotiations, or else we will shut down the entire economy on a scale which this country has never seen before,” Jim said.

Numsa is demanding a 15 percent wage increase across the board based on the actual rate workers are earning, not on the new minimum rate.

Meanwhile employers proposed, among other things, a three-year wage agreement offering of 5.3 percent wage hike across the board for the first year of the agreement based on the minimum rate, and not the actual rate that workers were earning.

Angus chastised Numsa for their unwillingness to budge on their “unrealistic” 15 percent increase or to discuss the other demands made by employers and said this provided a clear indication that the organisation always had the sole intention of initiating a strike.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE