15 July 2014

South Africa: Employer Withdraws Wage Offer

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

Johannesburg — Employer body Seifsa said on Tuesday it had withdrawn its final wage offer to the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

"We have not promised Numsa to get back to it with a new offer. Instead, we made it clear that we have exhausted our mandate," Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said in a statement.

"We also explained, during our meeting with the Numsa leadership yesterday [Monday] morning, that the final offer made last week -- which was intended to end the strike and to see employees back at work this week -- failed to accomplish its goal and has since been withdrawn."

The conditional final offer, which Numsa rejected on Sunday, was a 10 percent wage increase in 2014, 9.5 percent in 2015, and nine percent in 2016.

"It was made on condition that it would lead to a quick settlement that would see the current damaging industrial action, which has been accompanied by violence in some parts of the country, ended," he said.

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

No follow-up meetings were scheduled with Numsa.

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

"We are deeply concerned about the enormous damage wreaked on the economy by the strike, hence our determination last week to bring it to a speedy end."

He said it was regrettable that the final offer was not accepted.

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.

Numsa said on Monday afternoon it was waiting for Seifsa to respond to its 10 percent wage increase demand.

"After Seifsa's further discussions with Numsa in today's meeting on the issues of wages, they made an undertaking to go back to their council for a mandate," the union said in a statement.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the revised 10 percent demand was final. The union was expected to meet on Tuesday to consider expanding the strike.

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