Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi on October 7 called for calm as employer organisation the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) and union the National Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) remain in a deadlock over wage increases.
Additionally, one of the country’s biggest federations the Congress of South African Trade Unions has called for workers to come out in their millions this week to protest South Africa's weak economic performance.
Nxesi urged all parties to resolve their industrial issues urgently through social dialogue, especially "during this sensitive period of massive unemployment and retrenchments".
He appealed to all social partners entering the wage negotiations to work through their issues on the table. Hostility would not solve differences and, instead, it risks escalating the severe economic and social damages that have been brought about by Covid-19, the Minister said.
“It is common cause that the country is now going through one of the most difficult periods occasioned by the pandemic on one hand and the inclement economic conditions that prevailed even before Covid-19 on the other.
"It is against this background that we appeal to all the players, workers and employers, union federations and employer bodies, to handle the sensitive talks with the necessary caution,” he added.
“Cool heads should prevail and the good of the country and our economy should always be top of mind. After protracted industrial action, we still have to come and sit around the table to resolve our differences, but it is not wise or advisable to play a zero-sum game. We are all invested in this country,” Nxesi said.