As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown, industry finds itself in survival mode and the consequences for the M&E sector are going to be severe for both employers and employees.
Negotiations will not start as anticipated and the delay will have a number of consequences, namely:
- the current Main Agreement negotiating timetable and cycle has been detrimentally affected, with the consequence that negotiations will not take place as previously planned; and
- whilst it is not impossible to open negotiations, the reality is that there is little time between now and 30 June 2020. This makes planning for a round of negotiations near-impossible, given the expected continuation of restrictions on movement, gatherings, etc.
Given the state of the sector and the devastation caused by the lockdown, there is a possibility, in the absence of negotiations taking place, of the current agreement remaining in place for a minimum of four to six months or possibly until 30 June 2021.
At the earliest available opportunity, the SEIFSA Council appointed Main Agreement Negotiating Team will call for an urgent meeting with the trade unions to discuss not only the way forward but, more importantly, what is doable under the prevailing economic and business circumstances.
We will keep the membership informed of all developments in this regard.