Closure of Steel Production Capacity at ArcelorMittal will have devastating implications for South Africa and the Continent

Johannesburg, 29 November 2023. The announcement by ArcelorMittal South Africa on the closure of its operations in Newcastle and Vereeniging, as well as ArcelorMittal Rail and Structural will have a devastating impact on a number of fronts. These include the 3500 employees likely to be affected, the surrounding communities, suppliers, contractors and the broader metals and engineering sector.

Downstream industries are heavily reliant on the long-products that come from these plants to which a switch-over will not happen overnight. Even where these products can be imported this will result in the exporting of jobs that are desperately needed in South Africa. Moreover, the logistics challenges facing the country raise serious questions whether port and rail infrastructure can get product to the end manufactures.

A slow economy and difficult trading environment, high transport, logistics and energy costs, exacerbated by logistic failures and their resultant cost implications, the introduction of a preferential pricing system for scrap, a 20% export duty and more recently a ban on scrap exports have all played a major role in contributing to the current state of affairs. Compounding this is the DTIC’s blinkered and narrow focus on how best to create an enabling environment conducive to growth, stability and job security.  SEIFSA has repeatedly warned that the decisions relating to the scrap metal policy and its industrial policy consequences will yield casualties. What we are seeing unfolding at ArcelorMittal feeds directly into these warnings.

SEIFSA’s acting for and on behalf of its broader membership, which make up by far the most representative voice of both the upstream and downstream value chains in the metals and engineering industry, is firmly of the view that these and related industrial policy matters be urgently escalated to the Economic Cluster of Ministries, as it seems that the DTIC seemingly does not have the capacity, nor the grasp of the broader implications of these developments.

The matter is now beyond urgent and we urge the President and key Ministers in the Economic Cluster to treat it as such, if we are to avoid a socio-economic catastrophe of gigantic proportions in the metals and engineering industry which will reverberate throughout the economy and the continent, impacting the auto, motor, construction and mining sub-sector of the economy and all who work in it.

The reconstruction and recovery of the South African economy and more specifically the metals and engineering industry must be looked at in the wider context of reindustrialising critical sectors, along with all the other challenges facing the economy from energy and logistics to the water infrastructure and crime.

It's more than just about wages

Monday, next week marks the commencement of the 2024 Main Agreement wage and conditions of employment negotiations with a dialogue amongst all key stakeholders to explore, examine and unpack various scenarios in anticipation of the forthcoming negotiations.

Whilst wages or the level at which wages are currently pegged in the current 2023/2024 wage tables will undoubtedly feature high on the agenda, what is ultimately at stake is far more important than just wages.

As we see out the current three-year deal concluded in 2021, it’s important that we take stock of what was achieved. A three-year wage deal guaranteeing wage increases on Rands and cents – something this industry has last seen more than 30 years ago – a working exemption procedure, a special phase-in dispensation available to all employers who have been under severe stress to at least commit to paying 60% of the 2020 rates by 30 June 2024 and lastly, gazettal and extension of the agreement to all employers and employees in the sector.

Gazettal was crucial in ensuring that as the sector battled through the most difficult economic circumstances in living memory, brought about by the lingering effects of the global covid-19 pandemic, unrelenting load shedding, crumbling infrastructure and failing logistics, the one thing we could guarantee over the life-span of the agreement was a three-year period of stability, security and industrial peace.

Whilst this may seem as cold comfort to the realities of business men and woman battling to keep their doors open and workers in jobs, matters could have spiraled quickly out of control had SEIFSA, acting in concert with the Trade Unions, the PCA (SA) and CEO thrown in the towel and walked away from the various legal assaults leveled against the Main Agreement.

As matters stand the Main Agreement concluded in 2021 has been dragged before the Labour Court, the Labour Appeal Court and the Constitutional Court and thus far has come out on the winning side at each and every step. One final review application stands to be heard, in all likelihood, either during next years’ negotiations or when the negotiations are done and dusted. Regardless of when the matter is set down, we will be in Court. Legal finality is what we seek once and for all.

The push for gazettal particularly on the part of the unions was a major contributing factor that triggered strike action in 2021 that lasted 21 days and cost the industry in excess of R600 million a day in lost revenue. If truth be told, it had very little to do with the SEIFSA final offer on the table, in fact that was the offer SEIFSA and the trade unions signed off on to end the strike.

In an industry like ours, where bargaining at central level has taken place for almost 80 years, it would be fair to say that the collective bargaining ritual that we have seen play-out time and time again is pretty well entrenched. Is it the best model, is it the sort of model that will see us climb out of the economic abyss we find ourselves; will it create the jobs we so desperately need to make a meaningly dent in our alarming unemployment statistics? Probably not, but it’s the only model we have, that has stood the test of time and delivered time and time again varying degrees of industrial peace, stability and security. This has come at a significant cost, granted, but five industry stoppages over 30+ years, a standstill or wage freeze agreement in 2020 (to counter covid-19), a three-year deal on Rands and cents and up and until gazettal was a regular feature (i.e., 2010) a level playing field where wages and terms and conditions of employment were not something to be used to gain an unfair advantage over one’s competitors.

It's often said that voters and the absence of voters at the polling both, get the government they deserve. The same analogy can be applied in industry negotiations, namely when the conversation doesn’t suit a particular constituency there is a tendency to walk away and throw one’s hands in the air and blame SEIFSA. We’ve seen this play out time and time again, and I truly hope we will not see this in 2024.

Negotiations is not always about getting what you want or what you think you deserve. It’s about staying the course, through thick and thin, taking the hits and still being prepared to turn the page and come up with a counter that with a little persuasion may just swing things.

I should know I’ve been doing this going onto 34 years next year. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have great and experienced team of leaders around me who have proven time and again that ingenuity, experience and always looking for common ground is what wins the day, always.

I sincerely hope that as we embark on this journey into 2024, the dialogue session amongst equals on Monday is the start of a new journey that hopefully will not end with the same trite outcomes but instead marks the beginning of something new and fresh.

As our country prepares for General Elections in 2024, let this industry lead the way by concluding a deal that we all deserve. Next year is so much more than just about wages.

Lucio Trentini

Chief Executive Officer    

Scrap Metal ban is not working and should not be extended

Johannesburg, 21 November 2023. The SEIFSA Office has noted with concern submissions to the DTIC calling for the extension to the scrap metal export ban which is scheduled to come to an end in December 2023.

“SEIFSA’s position has always been that the scrap metal export ban is misguided in the issue that it is attempting to solve for, namely infrastructure damage for scrap metal theft. It is an extremely blunt measure with unintended industrial policy consequences. More worryingly it communicates a very poor economic signal by not taking into account a total steel perspective” Mr Elias Monage, SEIFSA President states.

In the deliberations regarding the scrap metal export ban SEIFSA is beginning to note with some concern a shifting in the goal posts, where discussion are beginning to lean to the export ban being used as an industrial policy instrument to support scrap-based mills and the country’s decarbonisation efforts, which was never the original motivation for the ban.

“The initial intention was always security related aspects and to attempt to limit the damage to infrastructure, with other considerations – whether noble or adverse - being ancillary to the core issue” comments Mr Monage.

Apart from SEIFSA’s repeated submission that the export ban is the incorrect instrument to solve a security related matter, to introduce industrial policy by stealth in this manner would be very poor economic signalling on the part of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC).

“If it is the intention of the DTIC to introduce a new industrial policy regime then the economic signalling should have been communicated as such and developed, with industry, taking the total steel sector perspective into account” states Mr Monage.

Poor and/or misleading economic signals run the risk of the DTIC losing the trust of the investment community due to the instability created in the economic environment. This stability is paramount particularly to the long-term nature of the investments associated with this sector.

“The scrap metal export ban creates a disproportionate and policy induced – not producer efficiency – input cost advantage that is afforded to only a select group of producers where scrap metal is used as an input” states Mr Monage.

In the absence of a mechanism similar to a Price-Preference-System (PPS) on iron ore, that attempts to level the playing field, pockets of the value chain are rendered uncompetitive, relative to the beneficiaries of the scrap metal ban. There also does not exist any regulatory mechanism that ensures that this input cost advantage is passed down the value chain, which again renders the intervention extremely narrow in its perceived benefits.

The scrap metal export ban also presents World Trade Organisation (WTO) contraventions and anti-competitive behaviour from a predatory pricing point of view, all of which the DTIC has opened the country up to from the decision to impose the export ban.

Whilst the unsuccessful export ban has undoubtedly been abused by consumers and

lead to prejudicial consequences, the critical question that still remains is whether the

unsuccessful ban on ferrous scrap exports and suspension of the Price Preference System (PPS) has contributed in any meaningful way to the fulfilment of the objective of the directive – the elimination and/or reduction of metal theft and associated criminal activity. The undeniable answer to this question is that it has not.

“Given all the negative consequences accompanying the scrap metal export ban and the fact that it is not working, SEIFSA strongly urges the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition not extend the scrap metal export ban beyond December 2023” states Mr Monage

SEIFSA Awards for Excellence Honour Companies in the Metals and Engineering Sector

Companies in the Metals and Engineering Sector were recognised for their talent and hard work at the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence on November 17 2023 at The Venue at Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.

The industry's premier recognition platform ensured companies of all sizes had the chance to bask in the spotlight among their peers.

SEIFSA CEO Lucio Trentini awarded the prestigious Outstanding Service to the Industry Award to Chris Murray, introducing him as someone who “has had played a significant role in the work of SEIFSA, the industry and associated forums and platforms for almost 40 years”.

Murray, a former SEIFSA president, has held various executive positions as both managing director and board member for various companies, including being the chair of the Haggie Group of Companies until his official retirement in 2004.

“I, on behalf of all of SEIFSA, past and present, am immensely grateful to you for your invaluable support to the Federation and contribution to the industry over the years,” said Trentini.

The Business Women of the Year Award was awarded to Racheal Njoroge, former managing director of Cummins Southern Africa and now Strategic Programs and Integrations Director, Cummins, Africa and Middle East.

Tafadzwa Chibanguza, SEIFSA COO, described Njoroge as a “remarkable leader who has consistently demonstrated her dedication, vision and commitment to achieving milestones while cultivating healthy work environments”.

While managing director at Cummins she helped the company reach new heights, including posting record-breaking financial results for the year 2022. “Under her leadership, the company witnessed unprecedented growth and profitability, setting new standards for success in the Southern African region,” says Chibanguza

Njoroge may have been named the winner, but there were three other nominees in the category:

Pam du Plessis Maning Director, Invincible Valves,
Honey Mamabolo Chief Executive Officer, The South African Mint Company and
Melanie Mulholland, Chief Executive Officer, Cape and Engineers and Founders Association

Actom won the Corporate Social Responsibility Award, which recognised the company for making a positive impact on society and demonstrating “an unwavering commitment to creating a positive impact on society” says Nuraan Alli, Marketing, Sales and Communication Executive.


This year a new award has been added, the BRICS Award, in conjunction with the BRICS Business Council.

The award sought to recognise the decarbonisation efforts of a metal producing company that operates within the BRICS member countries. ArcelorMittal South Africa won the award for its ongoing decarbonisation roadmap as well as its associated progress and investment towards decarbonising the steel sector, which is one of the hardest sectors to abate globally.

SEIFSA CEO Lucio Trentini adds that “the vision and progress being made by ArcelorMittal South Africa in its decarbonisation effort not only has profound benefit for the company and the upstream steel industry, but the entire Metals and Engineering Sector, given the company’s position at the beginning of the value chain. Companies in the downstream that are consumers of this steel will in the future enjoy the benefit of the less-carbon intensive steels”.

SEIFSA Awards for Excellence winners:

  • Best Customer Service Award: Dynamic Fluid Control
  • Company Artisan Training Award: Macsteel
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: Actom
  • Environmental Stewardship: Electrolux
  • Most Digitally Innovative Company: Aberdare
  • BRICS Award: ArcelorMittal
  • The workplace Health and Safety Award: Dynamic Fluid Control
  • Business Women of the Year Award: Racheal Njoroge, Cummins Southern Africa
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Industry: Chris Murray

COSATU intended protest action 3 November 2023


Management may be aware, from recent media reports, that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), intends calling workers to support a socio-economic protest action on Friday, 3 November 2023.

Protest Action and the Labour Relations Act

The Labour Relations Act (LRA) permits registered trade unions or federations such as COSATU, to undertake protected protest action to promote the social and economic interests of workers provided that they observe the procedural requirements contained in Section 77 (1) (b) of the LRA 66 of 1995, as amended.

This application was duly considered by NEDLAC and the NEDLAC Section 77 Standing Committee has determined the notice to be NOT compliant with the administrative requirements of the LRA.

Consequently, any employees participating in any action on 3 November 2023 will NOT be protected by the normal rules regarding protected strike-action.

Management Guidelines on Possible Absenteeism on Friday, 3 November 2023:

SEIFSA recommends that management adopt the following course of action in dealing with any stay-away from work on the 3rd November:

  • Inform all workers that any absences related to the protest action will be treated on the following basis:
  • no work, no pay;
  • That management reserves the right to take disciplinary action for participation in the protest action including any misconduct during the protest;
  • a shift for leave-pay and leave-enhancement pay qualification purposes will be lost in respect of the day’s absence; and
  • any overtime worked during the course of the week will be paid at ordinary rates to make up for the lost ordinary working hours from Friday, 3rd November 2023.

Notice to NEDLAC on the intention to proceed with protest action.pdf
Letter of notice


The Staff of the SEIFSA Industrial Relations Division are available on (011) 298-9400 to provide any further advice and/ or assistance to management on the contents of this management brief.

Lucio Trentini
Chief Executive Officer

SEIFSA welcomes the policy pronouncements in the Medium-term Budget Policy Statement

Johannesburg, 1 November 2023 - The 2023 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTPBS) recognises, reflects and has been structured to respond to key headwinds facing the global and South African economy.

The policy positions contained in this mini-budget are welcome for the fact that they communicate important reform signals. The only way to place the economy on a solid and sustainable trajectory is through economic growth and to achieve that, reform is critical. Particularly reform in the delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects.

For the steel sector, one of the most important policy considerations communicated is the opportunity for the private-public-partnerships (PPPs) in the financing and execution of large infrastructure projects. This will ensure that projects are executed with efficiency and speed.

The MTPBS posits the creation of new mechanisms to facilitate co-investing with the private sector and multilateral institutions on selected infrastructure projects and employing alternative financing instruments for priority projects.

These infrastructure projects are a crucial demand source for the metals and engineering sector, which has been languishing in a low demand environment for the last 15 years, therefore their speedy and successful execution is of significant importance to the sustainability of the sector.

We eagerly await the details that will underpin this PPP framework. However, even prior to this announcement in the MTPBS today, SEIFSA have already begun engaging relevant departments, including National Treasury to fast track this objective.

SEIFSA Bursary opportunity


The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) support and promotes the development of skilled human capital relevant to the Steel and Engineering industry. SEIFSA grants bursaries every year to learners who are pursuing a career related to the Steel and Engineering sector. The financial assistance is awarded to qualified full-time students registered for approved undergraduate Engineering programmes at South African Universities or students studying towards a National Diploma in Engineering at University of Technology (UoT).

 The following prescribed fields of study are accepted to the SEIFSA bursary scheme: Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering or other related Engineering coursesThe SEIFSA bursary will only cover the cost of tuition fees (students are liable for all other study costs such as accommodation, meals, stationery, study material, etc)


Applicants will have to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be a South African citizen
  • 35 years old or younger (Youth)
  • Good academic results for Mathematics and Science with a minimum of 75% average on Grade 12 / Matric
  • Studying or provisional acceptance into an undergraduate course at South African University or University of Technology in South Africa
  • Registered to study at a recognized South African University or University of Technology in South Africa
  • Must be enrolled to study any of the engineering courses or related engineering courses stipulated above

Note: Preference will be given to employees of SEIFSA member companies and dependents.



STEP1: Download and complete the SEIFSA Bursary Application Form

STEP2: Email completed bursary application form and supporting documentation to (insert the words “SEIFSA Bursary Application – Your full name in the email subject line)

Note: Applicants will be notified of the results of their applications before the end of 31 January 2024. An award letter will be given to the successful candidate. The institution will be notified regarding the awarding of the bursary


1st of November 2023 to 30th November 2023


For any queries regarding this specific bursary program, contact the Bursary Project Administrator; Mabandla Nhlapo

TEL: 011 298 9425


Still time to enter SEIFSA’s prestigious Awards for Excellence

Companies in the Metals and Engineering Sector that are keen to showcase their innovative solutions and gain industry acclaim still have time to enter the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence as entries close on October 20.

The Awards, which are due to take place on November 17, give companies of all sizes an opportunity to step into the spotlight and enhance their reputation among their peers.

“This year the SEIFSA team is committed to clearing the way to make participation easier,” says SEIFSA CEO Lucio Trentini.

The team will work with companies to prepare a draft motivation that highlights each company's unique strengths, contributions and achievements.

“We want as many companies as possible to enjoy the industry acclaim and enhanced reputation that come with taking part in the awards, but we also understand the time pressure most companies  are under, so a personalised 30-minute Teams session with SEIFSA Marketing, Sales & Communication Executive will help companies craft the motivation for their entry,” he says.

Along with the kudos of winning or even being nominated for one of the awards on offer, submitting an entry also opens doors to industry recognition as companies showcase their excellence.

“Participating in the awards will elevate your company's brand image and credibility and ensure you are viewed as a trusted and innovative industry expert,” says Trentini.

The nine award categories are as follows:

  • Most Digitally Innovative Company
  • Best Customer Service Award
  • Workplace Health and Safety Award
  • Company Artisan Training Award
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Environmental Stewardship Award
  • Young Entrepreneur Award
  • Business Woman Award
  • BRICS Award

“The SEIFSA Awards for Excellence is your platform to shine and we want to ensure your success, enter the competition and let your excellence be recognised and applauded by the entire industry.”

Lucio Trentini

Chief Executive Officer

SEIFSA is a national federation representing 18 independent employer associations in the metal and engineering industries, with a combined membership of over 1 200 companies employing over 170 000 employees. The federation was formed in 1943 and its member companies range from giant steel-making corporations to micro-enterprises employing fewer than 50 people.                                      

Now would be a good time to join SEIFSA

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) proudly celebrates its 80th Anniversary this year and despite the many difficulties and successes experienced by our membership over this period, we remain the most authoritative voice of the metals and engineering sector.

We have been very vocal in articulating the concerns of the sector, both publicly in the media as well as in meetings with various influential stakeholders, including in Government. Whenever Government Departments and other stakeholders are keen to solicit the input of the sector or to hear its views on various matters, they approach SEIFSA.

SEIFSA is a National Employer Federation representing the views of its 18 independent Employer Associations in the metal and engineering industries, with a combined membership of over 1 200 companies employing over 170 000 employees. Through its affiliated Employer Associations, SEIFSA has a presence in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

As we approach the next round of industry negotiations in 2024, the individual member companies which are members of one of the Employer Associations federated to SEIFSA will once again bear the burden of delivering an agreement that strikes a balance between the interests of both employers and employees in the industry.

SEIFSA is working hard to ensure that next year's negotiations will not be a repeat of what happened in 2021. It is vitally important that the settlement agreement to be reached next year is realistic and informed by the current state of our economy and our sector, preferably without us first having to go through another round of industrial action.

The majority of companies affiliated to our member Associations employ fewer than 50 employees. They will demand a settlement that is affordable and guarantees the survival of the industry.

Your affiliation to SEIFSA, through your Association, not only grants you immediate access to a range of professional product and service offerings, but also gives you a direct line of communication into SEIFSA to insist that any deal that is struck next year is reached with minimum disruption, if any.

As you may recall, the resolution of the strike in 2021 was delayed by the inability of two competitor employer organisations to find common cause with labour.  As a consequence, settlement was delayed by three weeks and ironically the SEIFSA membership bore the brunt of the ensuing strike action. The terms of the deal eventually signed by the SEIFSA membership (and the Consolidated Employers Organisation) was no different to what was tabled prior to the strike.

The 2021/2024 deal, drafted by the SEIFSA membership in collaboration with labour contains a number of breakthrough elements that are well worth preserving, namely: granting increases on Rands/ cents; exemption provisions designed to grant relief to struggling employers, a special phase-in dispensation to pay 60% of the 2020 rates by 30 June 2024, a clause providing protection against plant level bargaining and the element of a three year agreement designed to lock-down certainly, stability and industrial peace.

Whilst our competitors aimlessly spend their time in Court in the hope of trying to have the main agreement set-aside, we are hard at work laying the groundwork for what will undoubtedly be an important round of negotiations. Now would be a good time to affiliate to a winning team.

It is important to understand that individual companies do not join SEIFSA directly. SEIFSA is a Federation of affiliated Employer Associations which, in turn represent individual member companies in the various sub-sectors of the industry.

Upon joining an Association federated to SEIFSA, you are deemed to be a member of SEIFSA by affiliation and become entitled to the benefits set-out in the accompanying one-page summary.

If you are not already a member of one of the Associations federated to SEIFSA, now would be a good time to join. Together we are far stronger than individual employers and as a member of one of the Associations federated to SEIFSA, your voice will be heard.

Click here to join an Association affiliated to SEIFSA

Click here to see the benefits of joining SEIFSA

Lucio Trentini
Chief Executive Officer

SEIFSA celebrates 80th anniversary with successful golf day

The Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA) held a successful golf day on Friday, August 18 at the prestigious Glendower Golf Club, with the focus squarely on the Federation's 80th anniversary.

There was a full field of 164 players, all wearing company-branded shirts, with the 18 sponsored watering holes providing golfers and sponsors ample opportunities to network and showcase their businesses.

As part of the 80th celebrations, there was a hole in one prize of R80 000.00 at the 17th hole.  The award was not claimed but this did not diminish the enthusiasm of all participants.

First place went to Interroll SA (Pty) Ltd and second place to Marketing2theMax, with Coleus Packaging taking third place as well as the best stand award.

“This is a big year for SEIFSA as we celebrate 80 years of excellence. We appreciate the participation and dedication of our members in another successful day of golf and networking. We enjoyed seeing familiar faces and new acquaintances at this year's event, and look forward to celebrating again at next year's Annual Golf Day,” said SEIFSA CEO Lucio Trentini.

Lucio Trentini
Chief Executive Officer