Engineering sector strike looms as wage talks deadlock

21st September 2021 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Tuesday announced that it would embark on a national strike in the engineering sector from October 5, after wage talks deadlocked.

Numsa has deadlocked with employer associations in engineering, namely the National Employers Association of South Africa, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), SA Engineers and Founders Association and the CEO of the Metals Engineering Industries Bargaining Council, the union said.

Numsa would launch the strike with a national march.

Seifsa, on behalf of employers, proposed a three-year agreement of a 4.4% increase for this year, as well an inflation plus 0.5% increase for the second year and an inflation plus 1% increase in the third year.

Numsa has been calling for an 8% increase for the first year, followed by inflation plus 2% for the second and third year.

Seifsa confirmed that a certificate of non-resolution in a wage negotiation dispute had been issued. This, Seifsa CEO Lucio Trentini said, opened the way for potential strike and lock-out action; but only once strike and picketing rules had been agreed between the parties and in the absence of such agreement, imposed by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Trenti added that once strike and picketing rules had been finalised, any labour unions wanting to embark on strike action would be legally obliged to serve 48 hours’ notice of their intention to participate in protected strike action.

“Seifsa in response, has already complied with all the legal obligations necessary to reserve the right of member companies, who may elect to lock out striking employees,” said Trentini.

However, to date, strike and picketing rules had not been finalised and no formal 48-hour notice had been served.

In light of this latest development, Trentini urged employers to plan for the worst case scenario and ensure that adequate stock, material and enhanced security were in place.