Strike continues as Numsa rejects new wage offer
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SOUTH Africa’s biggest engineering union has rejected a new wage offer as a strike that has already hit output at carmaker BMW enters its second week, employer body Seifsa said yesterday.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which has around 155 000 members in the sector, has been on strike since October 5 to press for higher wages, an action that could hit supplies of parts for new cars and accessories.
Luxury car maker BMW said on Monday it had lost production of around 700 vehicles at its main assembly plant in South Africa when a number of suppliers were affected.
Lucio Trentini, the chief executive at industry body Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), said the two sides failed to reach agreement following talks with union officials on Wednesday evening.
“We will regroup this morning and plot the way forward. The revised and improved offer has been rejected,” he said of a new proposal Numsa sent to its members last week.
A smaller union, the Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa, said that its 16 000 members in the sector had also joined picket lines.
The protected strike was launched after wage talks hit a deadlock and arbitration failed, with Numsa demanding an 8 percent across-the-board wage rise in the first year, and inflation plus 2 percent for the second and third years.
Seifsa had offered 4.4 percent for 2021, inflation plus 0.5 percent in 2022 and inflation plus 1 percent in the third year.
“It is regrettable that an agreement has not been reached as yet and we expect more OEM (original equipment manufacturer) assembly lines to be impacted if the strike continues into next week, due to lack of production in parts of the supply chain,” said Renai Moothilal, an executive director at the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers.
Meanwhile, National Employers Association (Neasa) sent out a survey yesterday to steel industry employers, saying that the current strike within the metal and engineering industries sector had been characterised by escalating violence, intimidation and damage to property and it was trying to make an assessment as to the possibility of approaching the Labour Court.
It asked its members to send it evidence of incidents that had happened at their business premises.
Neasa said the law surrounding collective bargaining and strikes permitted the Labour Court to interdict either the strike or the violence and intimidation. It was the responsibility of the party approaching the court for such an order to prove the alleged acts of violence, intimidation or damage to property.