Retail motor talks progress
Johannesburg - Substantial progress was made in “make or break” negotiations between trade unions and the retail motor industry last week, despite a settlement not being agreed on between the parties.
Jakkie Olivier, the chief executive of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), which represents 19 000 businesses that collectively employ 300 000 people, confirmed on Friday that substantial progress had been made in that the demand by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) for a mega bargaining council or a realignment of the negotiations was no longer an issue in this round of the negotiations.
Olivier said Numsa’s wage demands had also reduced substantially from 20 percent previously to 10 percent in each year of a three-year agreement.
“It is regrettable that Numsa keeps on using the settlement in the (automotive) sector (as a proxy) for settlement in the retail sector. The retail motor industry can’t afford such high wage increases, because it comprises largely of small businesses,” he said.
Vehicle manufacturers and Numsa settled last week on a wage increase of 10 percent in the first year and 8 percent in the following two years of a three-year agreement.
Olivier said the RMI had made a counter offer of wage increases of 7 percent in the first year of the agreement and 6 percent in the following two years.
He said Numsa had a national executive committee meeting on Thursday at which they would take further guidance on this offer and were expected to revert back to the RMI this week.
Irvin Jim, Numsa’s general secretary, said last week that negotiations with the retail motor industry had reached “a critical stage” because the previous agreement had expired at the end of last month and Numsa members were beginning to panic because they needed their increases.
Olivier said if they settled now, they were already looking at December as the implementation date and by law the backdating of the agreement was not possible.
“The longer we take to settle, the longer it will take to implement the agreement and for employees to get their wage increases,” he said.
Hermann Kostens, the chief negotiator and chief executive for strategy and development at the Motor Industry Staff Association (Misa), said they were demanding an increase in minimum wages and an above inflation rate wage increase for their members.
Kostens said Misa did not support Numsa’s 10 percent wage increase demand because “it’s not realistic”.
Mark Roberts, the convener of the component manufacturing sector at the Motor Industry Bargaining Council (MibCo), said Numsa’s demand for a 10 percent wage increase in each year of a three-year agreement was a huge problem. “In the past, if we settled at high levels, retrenchments followed. For some of the small guys, it’s not retrenchments this time but closure.
“The negotiations have come down to five or six core items, such as the rate of pay, income thresholds, medical aid, alignment of the cycle and housing. Our industry can’t do housing. We don’t have the resources,” he said.