5 June 2014

South Africa: Numsa, AMCU and the Portent of Strike-Stricken Economy


While wintry weather is gathering over South Africa, the shoots of further economic pain are very much on the horizon. The National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) has warned that a strike by its 220,000 members in the engineering and metals sectors is almost inevitable. Meanwhile, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) strike in platinum continues. It's no coincidence the two most important unions in the country are sounding strikingly similar.

The load of workers that make up Numsa are not on strike. Yet. Speaking to media on Thursday, General Secretary Irvin Jim accused companies in the engineering and metals sector of arrogantly ignoring the pay and living conditions of workers while rewarding company executives with large bonuses. Numsa wants a one-year deal with a 15% pay increase but says negotiations are deadlocked, a dispute has been declared in the bargaining council, and the union is consulting its members on whether to strike. "Drawing from our past experiences, a strike is inevitable," said Jim on Thursday, giving employers until the end of the month to help find a resolution.

If workers decide on industrial action, the broader economic consequences could be harsh. On the back...

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