PRESS RELEASE - 2014/07/04: METALS AND ENGINEERING STALEMATE CONTINUES DESPITE EMPLOYERS’ 25% SALARY MOVE

The meeting took place hours after the SEIFSA Council – made up of Chairpersons of employer Associations affiliated to the Federation – had approved a 10% wage increase for H-level employees in 2014, followed by nine and eight percent increases in 2015 and 2016 respectively, as well as an eight percent increase for A-level employees in 2014 and seven percent increases in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The 10% adjustment for low-level employees at Rate H represented a whopping 25% move for SEIFSA from its previous offer of eight percent, while the move from the previous seven percent to eight percent for higher-level artisans represents a 14% adjustment.

SEIFSA Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba said that the Federation had approached last night’s meeting full of optimism that the new offer would lead to the conclusion of a deal which would see employees returning to work next week. He said the failure to reach an agreement was deeply disappointing.

He said that the new offer was the very best that SEIFSA could make under these difficult economic circumstances, and it was sweetened by the fact that the Federation’s members had agreed to take their demand for a 50% reduction of entry-level wages off the table.

“We are very deeply disappointed by this turn of events. After a long and heated discussion, the SEIFSA Council had finally come up with a very good offer that we were very confident would be acceptable to NUMSA. Regrettably, however, it would appear that we continue to be miles apart with the union as a result, among other things, of patently political demands about which we can do nothing,” Mr Nyatsumba said.
He said that there was no way that employers in the metals and engineering sector, which was known for its peaks and lows, would accede to NUMSA’s demand to desist from ever using the services of labour brokers.

“NUMSA has taken its opposition to labour brokers and the youth wage subsidy up with the Government and failed to get an outcome to its liking, now the union wants to impose its wishes on employers,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

Mr Nyatsumba said that it had become increasingly clear that NUMSA had approached the negotiations with a political agenda, which it wanted to wage through the guise of negotiations on wages and conditions of employment.

“Regrettably, business is not a player on the political stage. It is evident to us that NUMSA is advancing a political agenda against the ruling party on matters like labour brokers and the youth wage subsidy, and that it has now chosen to bludgeon business into submission on those issues because it could not get its way with the Government,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

He expressed concern that the failure to reach an agreement meant that the strike, which was already characterized by high levels of violence, would continue indefinitely, in the process causing even more damage to the economy.

Mr Nyatsumba revealed that many employers represented by the Federation had reported serious incidents of violence, with some striking workers having broken down factory gates and assaulted people. He reiterated his call on the police to maintain peace and to apprehend those behind the violence.

Mr Nyatsumba said that while SEIFSA would continue to hold one-on-one discussions with the other unions that were active within the metals and engineering sector, it did not have any future meetings planned with NUMSA.


PRESS RELEASE - 2014/07/03: SEIFSA CONDEMNS VIOLENCE BY STRIKING WORKERS AND CALLS ON THE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE TO ACT

Acts of violence and intimidation have been reported across the country in the past two days, with Gauteng being the most affected province, followed by KwaZulu-Natal. 

SEIFSA Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba said that the Federation was inundated with reports from its members of blatant acts of lawlessness, including violence and general mayhem, by some of the workers currently on strike. He said that while workers’ rights to go on strike was respected, there was “absolutely no room for violence”. 

“We are extremely disappointed with the violent behaviour of some union members who have embarked on a wanton campaign of damaging properties – including vehicles – of some of our member companies in the Wadeville and Isando areas since the beginning of the strike. This is precisely what we wanted to avoid when we called on the unions to commit to a Peace Accord at the beginning of the negotiations,” Mr Nyatsumba said. 

The unions doggedly refused to sign such a Peace Accord, saying that they would be prepared to discuss Strike and Picketing Rules only once negotiations had broken down. The agreement remains unsigned and has now been referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration for finalization.

Mr Nyatsumba called on the union leadership to ensure that their members behaved in accordance with the laws of the country and refrained from any violent behaviour, and on the South Africa Police Service to act swiftly to prevent a recurrence of violent actions. He revealed that he had twice written to the National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Riah Phiyega (see attached second letter), asking her to ensure that the police stood ready to protect life and limb throughout the country. He said that it was important that all those guilty of perpetrating violence were made to face the full might of the law.

“The right to strike should be exercised without infringing on the rights of others and without creating a perception of lawlessness. Violence and other reprehensible, criminal acts during a strike action cannot be condoned and should be punishable by law. Leaders of organised labour have to step forward and accept responsibility for the conduct of their members during a strike,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

The SEIFSA CEO expressed concern that damages perpetrated by striking workers had the potential to lower the country’s growth prospects even further and were likely to exacerbate South Africa’s current unemployment problem. He said that it was important for all stakeholders to work tirelessly together to bring the strike to a speedy end in order to avoid more violence as desperation set in among striking workers.


2014 Strike Action

2014 Strike Action Incidents

 image
Images

 Video-Icon 1
Videos
 

 


 


PRESS RELEASE - 2014/07/01: SEIFSA REMAINS DETERMINED TO WORK TOWARDS A RESOLUTION OF WAGE IMPASSE

Speaking after receiving a memorandum at Metal Industries House from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, Mr Nyatsumba said the industry was deeply concerned about the damage caused by the strike to the economy. He said that each day on which employees were away from work cost the industry more than R300 million, which the ailing South African economy cannot afford. That is equivalent to 0,014% of the country’s daily Gross Domestic Product.

Mr Nyatsumba said that this was very concerning given the fact that South Africa’s economy had shrunk by 0,6% in the first three months of 2014 and that international ratings agencies have recently downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to just above junk status.

“Ours is a very strategic sector with both upstream and downstream impacts on other important industries like mining, construction and auto manufacturing. Therefore, it is not just companies in the sector that are affected or stand to be affected, but it is also those companies in these other industries,” he said.

Mr Nyatsumba revealed that he had received a call from the CEO of a major car manufacturing company based in South Africa, who expressed concern about the impact of the strike on his company. He said that the CEO had informed him that he was under “considerable pressure” from his head office in America to close operations down in South Africa and to move them to a country with a more stable labour dispensation.

“For the sake of our economy, which has been seriously under-performing and has already taken a considerable hammering as a result of the strike in the platinum sector that ended last week, we hope that it will be possible for us, employers and labour, to find one another over the next few days. This will call for a greater degree of realism on the part of labour in terms of its lofty demands and expectations,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

He said that the industry welcomed the Government’s interest in the current stand-off between business and labour and hoped that it would help to propel the protagonists closer to one another.
The Minister of Labour, Mrs Mildred Oliphant, had a meeting with the leadership of both SEIFSA and NUMSA yesterday evening, with a follow-up meeting tentatively scheduled for Friday. Mr Nyatsumba stressed that the SEIFSA leadership would continue to make itself available for discussions with any stakeholders in an effort to settle the dispute as soon as possible.


PRESS RELEASE - 2014/06/30: SEIFSA WITHDRAWS LOCK-OUT NOTICE AGAINST SOLIDARITY

The SEIFSA Council is made up of the Chairpersons of employer Associations affiliated to SEIFSA, and it is the highest decision-making body within the Federation. It took the decision a week ago to approve the 48-hour lock-out notice to all unions within the metals and engineering sector, but withdrew it today following a meeting between SEIFSA Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba and Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis this afternoon.

Mr Nyatsumba, who had requested the meeting with Mr Du Plessis, said that he appreciated the fact that Solidarity was sufficiently concerned about the poor state of the economy, including the ailing metals and engineering industries. He expressed the hope that the other unions, which have all given notice to go on strike, could also be persuaded to forego the strike or to end it as soon as possible.

Mr Nyatsumba also indicated that SEIFSA continued to make itself available for one-on-one meetings with the different role players and other interested parties with a view to ending the strike just as it is beginning.

"Our economy has been seriously under-performing over the past few years and the situation has been worsening in recent times. The last thing that we need is a strike," Mr Nyatsumba said.