010714 Numsa strike resumed today around the country.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 8

Johannesburg - Seifsa hopes to secure a wage settlement in the metal sector through the bargaining council, the employer body said on Wednesday.

“Regrettably, our genuine efforts to bring the strike to an end as soon as possible were not successful,” Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) chief executive Kaizer Nyatsumba said in a statement.

“We have now decided to work with all stakeholders within the bargaining council in the hope of securing an agreement.”

He said the federation would focus on discussions with all affected parties under the auspices of the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC).

“We welcome the fact that the MEIBC has scheduled a facilitated plenary session to take place this week.”

The federation would continue to work with the other employer bodies, he said.

MEIBC represents the leadership of the various employer associations affiliated to Seifsa.

Numsa members downed tools on July 1, initially demanding a salary increase of 12 percent, dropped from their pre-strike demand of 15 percent, a R1000 housing allowance, and a total ban on labour brokers.

The union announced on Sunday it had lowered its wage demand to 10 percent.

Seifsa made a conditional final offer of a 10 percent wage increase in 2014, 9.5 percent in 2015, and nine percent in 2016.

On Sunday, Numsa rejected this, but indicated it would accept a 10 percent increase each year for the next three years.

Seifsa then reverted to its previous offer of a 10 percent increase in 2014 and nine percent in 2015 and 2016.

For higher-earning artisans on level A, the offer remained eight percent in 2014, 7.5 percent in 2015, and seven percent in 2016.

The National Employers' Association of SA has offered an across-the-board increase of eight percent, subject to a lower entry-level wage for new employees and measures to make the industry more flexible.

It argues these conditions would help stimulate business and economic growth, and consequently create jobs.

Nyatsumba said the strike cost the industry R300 million per day and was damaging the economy as it has affected other related sectors like auto manufacturing.

Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said the meeting at the bargaining council would probably be held on Thursday.

“The parties are scheduled to meet with the labour minister in Pretoria today (Wednesday) to discuss the strike. We will see what transpired in that meeting,” he said.

He said the employer and the union were not too far apart.

“We want 10 percent over a year and they want a three-year agreement.”

He said the union was considering a secondary strike at all companies that linked with the metals and engineering sector. - Sapa