Johannesburg, 25 August 2019 – The 2014 wage negotiations culminated in a month-long strike that subsequently led not only to closure of smaller companies operating in the metals and engineering (M&E) sector, but also to a jobs bloodboth that left thousands of employees jobless. The 2017 negotiations, on the other hand, yielded positive results in the form of a three-year deal, and no strike action.

What should empoyers expect from the 2020 MEIBC negotiations on wages and conditions of employment?

That  is the question that panelists taking part on the second day of the 2019 Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba will focus on. Providing a preview of what to expect from next year’s wage negotiations will be Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi, National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) General Sectretary Irvin Jim, Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) Operations Director Lucio Trentini, Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis and Department of Employment and Labour Chief Director Thembikosi Mkalipi, who is responsible for labour policy and industrial relations.

Commenting on this important plenary session, Mr Trentini said while employers will be hoping for a similar outcome in the 2020 negotiations to that achieved in 2017, it is worth noting that negotiations don’t take place in a vacuum.

“A number of key sectors are currently involved in respective sector negotiations; outcomes in these sectors will set the scene for what we can expect in 2020. The metal industry strike in 2014 followed strike action in the auto, motor and tyre sectors in 2013 and a five- month strike in the platinum sector. In 2016 auto, motor and tyre sectors concluded multi-term agreements without strike action, which positively influenced the outcome for the M&E sector in 2017.”

Mr Trentini added that as the 2020 negotiations get nearer, it is important to bear in mind the state that the South African economy currently finds itself in – a mostly negative economic and business environment characterized by a stagnant economy and job losses currently being experienced in the metals and engineering sector and other economic sectors.

Remarking on possible industrial action, Mr Trentini said there was hope that the amendments to the Labour Relations Act introduced last year –  which brought back the secret ballot, introduced advisory arbitration and a code of good practice on collective bargaining and default picketing rules –  will mitigate the chances of the kind of prolonged and violent strike action seen in 2014.

Now in its fifth year, the Indaba is organized and hosted by SEIFSA. Its core objective is to provide a platform for policy makers, labour representatives and businesses operating in the metals, engineering and related sectors to discuss the challenges facing the sector and collectively to devise sustainable solutions aimed at ensuring its sustainability.

The Indaba will also deliberate on the following topics:

  • The new Automotive Production and Development Programme: Will the Metals and Engineering Sector Benefit?
  • A Growing Chinese Presence in South Africa: How Should Local Business Respond?
  • State-Owned Companies As Economic Enablers, Infrastructure Development and the Metals and Engineering Sector
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Manufacturing: Is South Africa Ready – Or Will It Be Left Behind?
  • The new Automotive Production and Development Programme: Will the Metals and Engineering Sector Benefit?
  • The Industrial Policy Action Plan and the National Development Plan: A Progress Report on Their Implementation

The line-up of speakers expected to address delegates includes:

  • Ted Blom, Energy Advisor: Energy Expert Coalition;
  • Chris Yelland, Managing Director: EE Publishers;
  • Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises;
  • Tshokolo Nchocho, Industrial Development Corporation CEO;
  • Patrick Bond, Professor at the Wits School of Business;
  • Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter, Deputy Director General: International Trade and Economic Development Division;
  • Mkhuleko Hlengwa, Chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and
  • Ms Busi Mabuza, Chairperson of the South African Chapter of the BRICS Business Council.

The agenda for the 2019 Indaba is driven by the state that the metals and engineering sector currently finds itself in.


Issued by:

Ollie Madlala
Communications Manager
Tel: (011) 298 9411 / 082 602 1725