THE National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said on Monday that its members had unanimously accepted a wage settlement offer in the metals and engineering sectors, ending a four-week strike that has crippled some manufacturers. Some 220,000 Numsa members who have been on strike since July 1 will begin to return to work on Tuesday, after agreeing to a three-year wage deal giving its lowest-paid members increases of up to 10%. Speaking at a briefing at the union’s headquarters in downtown Johannesburg on Monday, Numsa general-secretary Irvin Jim said the union had also agreed with employers on a “formulation” of a contentious peace clause within the agreement. The new formulation has satisfied the union’s members that they will still be able to challenge employers over workplace disputes.
Numsa met with employer body the Steel Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) on Friday, amid agreement on wages but disagreement on the contentious amendment to a clause governing union members’ right to strike. Seifsa maintained that keeping the clause as-is risked the establishment of a two-tier bargaining system in the wake of labour court judgments that had set legal precedent for protected strike action. “The union has … succeeded in negotiating a formulation of the (amendment) which we are confident is legally sound and thus not disadvantageous in any manner, shape or form,” Mr Jim said.
The wage agreement operates on a schedule, with Numsa’s members in the lowest three categories receiving 10% in the first three years, followed by a half-a-percentage-point decrease for the second-lowest and third-lowest categories in years two and three, respectively. Seifsa welcomed the agreement on Monday, and said a compromise on the wording of the clause had been agreed during weekend talks. “We are immensely relieved that the strike is finally over. It is now incumbent on all stakeholders in the metals and engineering sector to work co-operatively together to grow the sector and to ensure that it is internationally competitive,” Seifsa CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said.
The parties signed the agreement last night!