29 June 2014

South Africa: Strike of the Month - Welcome to Metals & Engineering

Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht/Sapa
Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa march for better wages in Cape Town.


On Tuesday, only a week after the resolution of the platinum strike, the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) will embark on a strike in the metals and engineering sector. As the factories grind to a halt, GREG NICOLSON unpacks the issues.

Negotiations that have taken place through the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) are complex, with six unions and multiple industry bodies involved. However, most of the unions have both wage-related and non-wage related demands that have fluctuated in recent months.

Wage demands have lowered from 20% to 15% and finally 12% recently as the 2011-2014 agreement expires on 1 July. The unions want a one-year deal. Speaking on Sunday, Numsa Deputy General Secretary, Karl Cloete, said the union, which has 220,000 members in the metal and engineering industries, is looking for a double-digit increase.

The previous three-year agreement, which helped secure industry stability, came after a two-week strike in 2011. It featured 8-10% increases in the first year followed by 7-8% increases. This time, the unions are also calling for the scrapping of labour brokers, and, in some cases, are demanding companies don't hire workers on the Employment Tax Incentive scheme.

The agreement will affect over...

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