Metal Industry Consolidated Main Agreement extended to nonparty employers

7th October 2022 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi on October 7 gazetted the Metal Industry Consolidated Main Agreement, thereby making it legally binding on all employers and employees who are subject to the agreement’s scope of application.

The main agreement becomes legally binding on all nonparty employers from October 17.

“This brings to an end a journey that began more than a decade ago – costing millions of rands, occupying far too much court time and, quite frankly, could have been avoided,” Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) CE Lucio Trentini said in a statement.

The agreement was extended despite strenuous objections from the National Employers Association of South Africa (Neasa).
“Neasa will engage its legal team in respect of this matter and further information regarding the way forward will follow in the coming days,” the association said in a separate statement.

After many rounds of litigation, there is now an agreement covering terms and conditions of employment, which Trentini said was supported by the majority of employees who are members of the trade unions represented on the bargaining council, as well as the majority of factory workers employed by members of one of the employer organisations represented on the council.

“I have no doubt, however, that legal challenges will continue all the way to the Constitutional Court,” Trentini said.

He said the Main Agreement had been “unfairly and mischievously” characterised as an agreement between Seifsa and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

“This couldn’t be furthest from the truth,” Trentini said.

He said the agreement was supported by five of the biggest trade unions in the industry, including Numsa, along with 18 independent employer organisations, in addition to the Consolidated Employers Organization, which represented more than 670 employers with more than 14 000 employees. 

“While we acknowledge the right of our detractors to continue in their quest to have the agreement declared a nullity, our critics would be best advised to do some introspection and ask themselves what they have been doing for the last 20 years, participating on a forum that is designed and created to support centralised collective bargaining,” Trentini said.

He said bargaining councils were created to uphold standards of fair play and decency, in the hope that every employer would be free to run a business in a climate of industrial peace, stability, certainty and that workers would be free to earn a decent wage from an honest day’s work.

“Bargaining councils are designed to bring together employers and trade unions with the very purpose of concluding agreements that both sides can live with, Trentini said.