23 July 2014

South Africa: Numsa Condemns Seifsa's 'Hasty' Decision

Johannesburg — Numsa on Wednesday bemoaned Seifsa's "hasty" decision to make public a proposed wage offer to try to end the strike in the metals sector.

"The NEC condemned the hasty decision taken by Seifsa to publicly communicate the offer... without affording the union an opportunity and a right to report back to members," spokesman Castro Ngobese said in a statement.

"This flies in the face of the union's own democratic principles and processes to gain feedback and mandates from our members, the real custodians of the strike."

He said the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) would communicate its decision on the offer once it had received a mandate from its members.

Numsa held a special national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Tuesday, following the tabling of a proposed wage offer by the labour department aimed at ending the strike in the metals sector.

Employer body, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa), said on Tuesday it accepted the offer, but with conditions. One of these was that unions accept the offer by Friday.

The new proposal included a three-year agreement with increases of between eight and 10 percent, depending on whether the workers were high or low earners.

The labour department and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration facilitated talks between Seifsa and unions, after negotiations between the parties deadlocked.

Over 200,000 Numsa members in the metal and engineering sector downed tools on July 1, demanding a salary increase of 12 percent, dropped from their pre-strike demand of 15 percent. They also demanded a R1000 housing allowance, and a total ban on labour brokers.

The union announced on July 13 that it had lowered its wage demand to 10 percent.

Ngobese on Wednesday said Numsa would convene a number of general meetings in the next two days to present the offer to its members, and then another special NEC would be held to receive feedback.

"This is in line with our established traditions, as a worker-controlled, transparent and democratic trade union. The strike continues and has not been suspended," he said.

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