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Numsa reaches deadlock with motoring industry over wage increase, major strike looms

A petrol attendant puts petrol in a car at a filling station in Braamfontein. Picture: Itumeleng English

A petrol attendant puts petrol in a car at a filling station in Braamfontein. Picture: Itumeleng English

Published Aug 4, 2022

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The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said yesterday that the motoring industry faced a countrywide strike in the sector after wage negotiations reached a deadlock.

This sector represents employees in components-manufacturing companies, petrol stations and car dealerships.

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It employs about 306 000 workers nationally. Numsa represents the majority, which is at least 90 000 members.

The union is demanding a one-year agreement and a 12 percent across-the-board wage increase.

Numsa said it had met with employers in the motor sector, including the Retail Motor Industries (RMI) and the Fuel Retail Association (FRA), for mediation under the auspices of the Motor Industries Bargaining Council (MIBCO) dispute resolution committee (DRC).

“We had set down two days for mediation through the DRC (the last day was August 3) because we have declared a dispute. The purpose of the meeting was to reach a compromise and avert a strike. Unfortunately, we were unable to find one another,” Numsa said in a statement.

Numsa is demanding the following:

  • A 12 percent increase across the board;
  • Overtime rate to be in line with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act for chapter 3 workers;
  • Alignment of the wage negotiations calendar for chapters 2 and 3 and the Auto sector;
  • Scrapping of discrimination clauses against Numsa members of the Sick & Accident Fund;
  • Night shift and transport allowance for garage workers. They work very late at night and it is not safe for them to depend on public transport when they knock off late at night, or when they start their shifts early in the morning;
  • Peace clause. We demand a peace clause that allows us to raise issues in the workplace that are not covered by the MIBCO collective agreement. These issues we should be able to raise in the workplace. All benefits that are not part of the MCA to be negotiated at plant level;
  • Social benefits such as medical aid for garage workers. This is crucial because they do not have any benefits and they suffered during Covid-19 because they were unable to access quality healthcare.

Numsa went on to say that it was unfortunate that the FRA made an offer which they could not accept.

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The union said: “They offered 4 percent across the board for all forecourt attendants. They have offered 3 percent for chars and also 3 percent for cashiers. This is for the duration of the three-year agreement. What is even worse is that this proposal by the FRA is on condition that Numsa must drop all the other demands.

“The RMI was expected to make an offer but they have not yet done so.

“It is unfortunate that employers wasted the time which was allocated to them. We are now at the point where we are forced to declare a deadlock.

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“We will be organising National Shop Stewards Council meetings in the coming weeks with our members in order to mobilise them. We will also wait for a date from the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) for conciliation to deal with picketing rules. We are at the mercy of the CCMA and employers.

“The ball is in their court. They have the power to stop the looming national strike in the motor sector if they put a meaningful offer on the table. We are always ready to talk and there is still time to avert a strike,” Numsa stated.

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