The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) has said that there will be no more offers on the table after reports emerged that the workers representatives had rejected the latest offer made by the employer mother body in an attempt to put a stop to a strike that has been running for the past two weeks.
Following the resolution of the mine workers’ strike, which had gone on for five months, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa called a strike of its own members, calling for salary increases of 15%. NUMSA has also demanded that the employers pay, in addition to this increase, a housing allowance of R1 000, career and training opportunities for all workers as well as a complete ban on all labour brokers. The employers, on the other hand, were offering from between 8% and 10%. In their final offer, they laid out the increases as being 10% in the first year, 9,5% in the second year and 9% in the third year.
In a meeting facilitated by the Department of Labour, SEIFSA tabled a ten percent offer, which they referred to as their final offer. However, despite the fact that they did not communicate their position to the employer organisation, media reports have indicated that the 200 000 member strong worker organisation has rejected the offer. In an interview, the union’s treasurer, Mpumzi Maqungo, said the position that the union had adopted at the meeting held on Thursday to discuss the employers’ offer would be communicated on Sunday. He, however, hastens to add that the ‘strike is still on’.
The strike, which is expected to cost the economy R280 million in lost output, has been blamed for being violent and intimidation of fellow workers who were not participating in the strike. More than one hundred people have been arrested across the country in violence and intimidation charges. Police who have had to be called in have also been accused of using live ammunition in an attempt to quell the violent strikers. This has resulted in the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, calling for a meeting between the police and the NUMSA executive to discuss how the police can hold the union accountable for the violence conducted by its members. This is in an attempt to curtail the violence that has been perpetrated by most of its members nationwide.