Labour: Strike threat over steel industry wages deadlock

SA’s economy could suffer more harm if the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) carries out its threat to strike for higher pay in the steel and engineering sector. A Business Day report says Numsa called on its more than 360 000 members to prepare for a strike that could see workers in the automotive industry, component supplies, tyre sector, mining, aviation, and all ports joining in solidarity. Numsa, which initially demanded a one-year, 15% pay increase across the board, has revised its wage demand down to 8%, after declaring a dispute at the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council.

Seifsa declared a counter dispute against Numsa over its refusal to accept the proposed wage hike deal. In a media briefing yesterday, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim called on the union’s members to ‘ready themselves for the mother of all strikes if employers refuse to settle this round of negotiations’. Jim said Numsa was discussing with other sectors to join its strike in solidarity with its demands in the steel and engineering sector, which Seifsa has said is still very much ‘in the throes of deep distress’, made worse by declining steel prices due to an increase in cheap imported steel. Jim said Numsa was left with no choice but to declare a deadlock when employers were not prepared to move on their proposal. He said that parallel to the dispute processes, the union is prepared to negotiate to settle this dispute.

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