S Africa metal workers 'reject wage offer'

Unions steadfast on their demand of 15 percent as strike threatens to push country closer to recession.

Last updated: 04 Jul 2014 19:46
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The ongoing industrial action has hit an estimated 10,500 companies across South Africa [EPA]

Striking South African engineering and metals workers have rejected an improved wage offer to end the country's
largest-ever strike, firms say, as the stoppage begins to affect the vital car-manufacturing sector.

Representatives for the roughly 200,000 workers who initiated the industrial action on July 1, rejected a 10 percent pay increase for some employees this year and nine and eight percent increase in 2015 and 2016, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) said on Friday.

Kaizer Nyatsumba. the CEO of SEIFSA, said the multi-year offer was the "the very best" firms could do "under these difficult economic circumstances", raising the spectre of protracted negotiations.

The National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) - the country's largest union representing workers across several sectors - has demanded wage increases of up to 15 percent in a one year deal.

The strike has hit an estimated 10,500 companies across South Africa and threatens to push the country further towards a recession.

"Regrettably, it would appear that we continue to be miles apart with the union," Nyatsumba said.

In contrast, Irvin Jim, NUMSA's head, said he believed the two sides were "not very far from each other".

He told Reuters news agency that issues like a youth-wage subsidy and the removal of labour brokers were key to a settlement to end the strike.

Other sticking points have been NUMSA's insistence that any agreement be for one year, while the employers want to seal a three-year deal.

The South African economy shrank in the first quarter amid a five-month-long platinum strike that was only resolved last week.

The country's labour minister is due to meet with the union and employers on Friday, a spokesman told Reuters, adding the government was "quite hopeful" a deal could be reached soon.

There were already signs that the engineering and metals strike was being felt beyond the sectors directly affected.

General Motors reported that assembly at its main plant near Port Elizabeth had been halted because of a lack or parts.

"The strike in the metal and engineering sector has impacted upon supply of components to our production line and we have had no other option but to halt assembly as of 3 July 2014," Gishma Johnson, a General Motors spokeswoman, said.


Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list