South Africa: The Steel Industry Strike Is Over but At a Painful Cost to Workers


Steel industry workers have lost more than R200m in wages since the strike started on 5 October. The strike could have ended a week ago if Numsa accepted an improved wage offer of 6% from workers. Instead, the trade union insisted on an 8% adjustment.

The crippling strike in the steel and engineering industry is over, with more than 100,000 workers being immediately called back to shop floors at factories across SA that have been abandoned for nearly three weeks.

Arguably, the strike was prolonged unnecessarily and could have ended sooner (in fact, a week earlier), limiting the harm caused to striking steelworkers who have lost more than R200-million in wages since the industrial action started on 5 October. This is because employers implemented a "no work, no pay" policy for striking workers in the steel and engineering industries that are affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

On Thursday 21 October, Numsa accepted an above-inflation wage increase offer of 6% from employers -- a markedly lower-wage adjustment than the 8% that the trade union tabled and doggedly defended.

Employers -- represented by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) -- improved their offer...

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