Retail motor industry wage talks move too slowly
Johannesburg - A new agreement on wages and conditions of service for the retail motor industry is unlikely to be in place before the current agreement lapses at the end of August.
This will result in the 300 582 employees employed by 21 139 companies in the sector losing out on the wage increase finally agreed for the period between the lapsing of the old agreement and the gazetting of the new agreement.
Tom Mkhwanazi, the general secretary of the Motor Industry Bargaining Council (Mibco), expressed confidence yesterday that a strike could be avoided in negotiating a new agreement, but did not believe it would be in place before the old deal lapsed.
Mkhwanazi said there was “a gentleman’s agreement” between Mibco and the Department of Labour that the new agreement would be submitted to the department 90 days before the old agreement lapsed but they were already within this 90-day time period.
He said the conditions from the last agreement would be applicable to the industry if the agreement lapsed without the gazetting of a new agreement. Employees would not receive a wage increase until the new agreement was gazetted because the minister of labour could not retrospectively implement the agreement.
The negotiations involve the Fuel Retailers Association, the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), National Employers Association of SA, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Motor Industry Staff Association (Misa).
Negotiations have commenced between Numsa and the Automobile Manufacturers Employers Organisation in the National Bargaining Forum, a forum between Numsa and vehicle manufacturers.
Irvin Jim, the general secretary of Numsa, yesterday said the outcome of the negotiations that had just resumed were difficult to predict but any agreement reached must take into account “backpay for our members” if the union’s members were not at fault for the outcome of the entire process not being gazetted in time.
Jim said it was difficult to predict how quickly the negotiations would be concluded, adding they were now “in the theatre of negotiations”.
He confirmed that the RMI had difficulty with Numsa’s bargaining strategy, particularly its demand for a mega bargaining council and a one-year agreement, but it had to negotiate and deal with those matters.
Jakkie Olivier, RMI’s chief executive, last week said the RMI had not and would not submit counter offers to Numsa on wages or any other issues until two “structural issues of concern” had been resolved.
These are Numsa’s demand for a mega bargaining council, comprising vehicle manufacturers, oil refineries and retail motor industry, and a one-year rather than a three-year deal.
“As far as RMI is concerned, lumping us with big business in a mega bargaining council is not going to happen. It will put our members’ survival under threat,” he said.
Numsa’s demands included a 20 percent wage increase, one-year agreement, a R5 000-a-month housing allowance and medical benefits to be paid on an 80 percent by employer, 20 percent by employee basis.
Mkhwanazi said there had been two sessions of talks and the parties would meet again next week. He admitted the talks had not yet achieved anything but the parties were “engaging among themselves to find each other”.