Industry body the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) has called for the creation of a national state of disaster support and recovery plan for the metals and engineering sector.
Such a plan should provide an opportunity for the industries to reset, reposition and prepare the groundwork for business survival, stability, certainty and industrial peace, the federation notes.
A national disaster support and recovery plan should address, firstly, how to fairly compensate employees who have endured suffering in the past 18 months, while ensuring that employers, who likewise have suffered, are not priced out of the market, leading intentionally or unintentionally to further business failures and job losses, Seifsa says.
"With South Africa’s economic outlook unlike any situation experienced before, Seifsa argues that the time has come for parties to work together and, more so in the area of collective bargaining, to formulate a collective agreement that has the potential to offer something to everyone."
Importantly, the plan must determine what a realistic timeframe is to achieve this objective and under what conditions if any, non-Seifsa-affiliated organisations will commit to such a plan.
"Developers must consider how this envisaged plan can be designed to make a compelling case for non-affiliated employer organisations to seriously consider what may be possible and, simultaneously and importantly, keep the Seifsa-affiliated membership on board," the industry association says.
Seifsa, pointing to the nexus of the plan, stresses that, if the negotiating partners are able to agree on the details at the centre of the overlapping points, the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council may be on the verge of achieving something that has not been achieved over the last ten years – collective agreement that enjoys, at best, the support of all and, at worst, the support of most.