Speaking after the national executive committee (NEC) special meeting which is said to have been attended by leaders of workers from across the country and members of the national bargaining team, NUMSA spokesperson, Castro Ngobese said the meeting agreed to consult members to find out their view on the matters that they had deliberated upon, chief of which was the offer from the employers, which seems to also have the blessing of the minister. He urged all members of his union who are currently engaged in the strike to join what he called pocketing lines on Monday so that they would be able to receive the results of the deliberation of the National Executive Committee.
Close to 220 000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers have been on strike for almost a month now. This covers workers in the metal and engineering sector. Their grievances are that they require a 15% increase in their salary. In addition, they would also like a housing allowance of R1 000 across the board as well as a total ban on the use by employers of labour brokers who they accuse of unfair labour practices. Since the strike commenced on the first of July, they have, to their credit, negotiated their salary increment demand to 12%. Ngobese said a media briefing was planned for Monday afternoon to publicly communicate the union’s final decision.
The labour department and Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration facilitated talks between the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa and unions after negotiations between the parties deadlocked. Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant proposed a wage increase of 10% to low-level employees over the next three years. This proposal entailed a three year agreement which would see workers get increments of between eight and ten percent depending on whether the workers were higher earners or lower earners.
If the minister is able to broker a functional wage deal, it will be welcome news for the South African economy, which is still reeling from the effects of the platinum strike which ran for close to half the year and cost the platinum mining consortium more than four billion rands. Furthermore, the strike directly led to the shrinking of the country’s gross domestic product and the downgrading of the South African economy.