SEIFSA and NUMSA conclude Historic Agreement in record time

After three formal engagements SEIFSA and NUMSA have concluded the terms of a historic three-year wage agreement for the period 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2027.

Following a bruising round of wage negotiations in 2021 which peaked in a three-week strike costing the industry in excess of R600 million rand per day in lost revenue, this year’s agreement was reached in record time, with no industry disruption and within mandate.

The SEIFSA affiliated membership which accounts for 57% of all employees, employed by all the employer organizations on the bargaining council and NUMSA representing in excess of 115 000 members signed the agreement today at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg.

“This agreement is a testament to the commitment by the social partners to seek a settlement as soon as possible and with minimal disruption,” said Mr. Trentini.

The agreement was reached on the foundation laid by the signing of a process agreement by all the parties prior to the commencement of the negotiations – this strategic innovative approach was also in itself an unprecedented event.

‘’The process agreement set the road-map to settlement, a pledge to negotiate in good faith, outlined the context, tone and architecture of the negotiations,” said Mr. Trentini.

This year’s agreement, as was the case in 2021, prescribes wage increases to be calculated on the scheduled or gazetted minimum rates of pay per grade over the next three years. Rate A in year 1 will receive 6%; Rate H 7% and in years two and three of the agreement, Rate A will receive 5% and Rate H 6% respectively.

Apart from wage increases and this year’s agreement being reached almost two months before the expiry of the current agreement – again an unprecedented feat (in 2021 agreement was reached in October), the deal contains no additional and/or immediate cost to employment concessions. Importantly however, the exemption and special phase-in exemption dispensation for employers who feel that a degree of relief from the agreement is required is retained.  This is in direct response and a clear acknowledgement by the parties to also cater for SMME’s, their challenges, dynamics and sustainability.

“Of historical importance is the commitment by the parties to meaningfully address access to housing for industry workers,” Mr. Trentini said.

The parties have agreed to request the Board of Trustees of the Metals and Engineering Industries Benefit Funds, who oversee investments under management in excess of R149 billion, to develop an institutional framework, covering amongst other, eligibility and legal criteria, funding model/s, subsidy mechanisms and/or programmes and substantive policy approaches within three (3) months of the signing this agreement.

In addition, “stakeholders have agreed to convene and jointly formulate an industrial policy framework focused on re-building and repairing public infrastructure, alleviating bottlenecks constraining economic growth while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the metals and engineering sector,” said Mr. Trentini.

Finally, a number of outstanding issues have been identified and referred to various working groups and committees for further investigation, discussion and processing.

“SEIFSA applauds the trade unions for staying the course and living the bold, courage’s and ambitious goals and objectives embodied in the process agreement,” said Mr. Trentini.

“Three decades into our democracy it is heartening to witness that it is indeed possible for negotiating partners, in the heat of robust and adversarial collective bargaining to put the interests of the metals and engineering sector – and, indeed, the interests of our country – first,” Mr. Trentini said.

SEIFSA and unions call for a metals and engineering industries reconstruction, reindustrialization and development plan


Negotiations on the 10 April held between SEIFSA representing the 18 affiliated Employer Organizations, NUMSA, Solidarity, UASA, MEWUSA, SAEWA and NUM, culminated in the calling for a Metals and Engineering Industries Reconstruction, Reindustrialization and Development Plan in order to afford the industry an opportunity to re-set in an enabling environment underpinned by certainty, stability and industrial peace.

”With South Africa’s economic outlook unlike any experienced before, the time was ripe for parties to work together and more so, in the area of industrial policy, to construct a collective agreement that quickly and with minimal angst and anxiety settles the vexed issue of wages and brings all stakeholders together to jointly formulate a framework focused on re-building and repairing public infrastructure, alleviating bottlenecks constraining economic growth, while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the metals and  engineering sector, which is critical to the reconstruction, reindustrialization and development of the economy.”  Trentini said.

“SEIFSA applauds the trade unions for taking this bold and courage’s stand in putting the interests of the metals and engineering sector – and, indeed, the interests of our country – first. We remain cautiously optimistic that consensus will be found,” Trentini said.

The negotiating partners may just be on the verge of achieving something never achieved or at the very least never in the last three decades – and that is concluding an agreement during the currency of the existing agreement set to expire on 30 June 2024.

With negotiations set to continue on 24 April 2024, SEIFSA gave notice that it intends to reach out and work with all the employer and trade union stakeholders. The SEIFSA Council will also reconvene before the next round to receive a report back from the negotiators.

L Trentini

Chief Executive Officer


Initiating Negotiatons for the Amendment of an existing Agreement in terms of Clause 10 and Annexure E of the MEIBC Constitution

 25 March 2024 

Mr. Sicelo Nduna 

General Secretary 


Facsimile: 086 636 8690 


Dear Mr Nduna 


SEIFSA, acting in accordance with the mandate of the member Associations contained in the attached schedule, request you, in accordance with Clause 10 and Annexure E (2) of the MEIBC Constitution to convene a negotiating meeting at your earliest convenience. 

Insofar as this year’s round of negotiations is concerned, we know that things will not be easy and the challenges facing us are many. South Africa’s economic outlook doesn’t look good and there is little business confidence. The notion of job retention and/ or job creation on the back of an alarming high unemployment rate fuelled by ongoing retrenchments and business closures, has become elusive. 

Persistent load-shedding, the worst in more than a decade, shows no signs of ending. Spiking unemployment, widespread business failures and huge job losses point to negotiations this year taking place against a difficult economic landscape. 

It would be fair to say that only if labour and business across the board find a way of working together do we stand a chance of turning things around. It’s also fair to say that the relationship between supporters and detractors of gazetted collective agreements, like the Main Agreement, are strained. Litigation continuous and in all likelihood may well continue into the future. 

Trust amongst all stakeholders must be rebuilt and the national discourse must find a way of transcending beyond purely wages and terms and conditions of employment. 

 Once negotiations over wages and conditions of employment have been settled, the focus must urgently shift to more important priority interventions, where labour and business collectively can play a part in tackling the deep underlying failures preventing meaningful growth in SA and our sector. 

In light of the above the Associations federated to SEIFSA propose concluding an agreement which envisages affording industry an opportunity to re-set in an enabling environment underpinned by certainty, stability and industrial peace. 

Industry negotiations over the years have created a set of comprehensive and favourable employment conditions for employees that are essentially unmatched across most bargaining councils. Hence, we do not wish to pursue any further amendments and/ or adjustments to benefits currently contained in the Main Agreement nor do we propose down varying existing terms and condition of employment. Equally important is our position on Section 37 of the Main Agreement i.e., that it must be retained. 

Accordingly, we formally give notice that our approach to this year’s round of negotiations will be structured around four (4) broad principles or themes, namely: 

  • a long-term agreement; 
  • wages; 
  • gazettal and extension; and 
  • exemptions incorporating special phase-in dispensation. 

As there is a nexus or connectivity between these four themes or business drivers, consensus must be reached on each of the drivers before an agreement can be considered. 

We also propose that all outstanding issues be dealt with in-line with the provision as set-out in paragraph 6 of the signed-off Process Agreement and that this process commence immediately once a Settlement Agreement has been concluded. 

In closing, it is our hope that the employer and trade union parties in the MEIBC will make every effort to successfully conclude the industry negotiations on or before the expiry of the current agreement on 30 June 2024. 

We ask that you please bring the views of our member Associations, as articulated herein, to the attention of the party trade unions and the other employer organizations on the Council. 

Yours Sincerely 

Lucio Trentini 

Chief Executive Officer 

Cc: Elias Monage, SEIFSA President 

Association Chairpersons 

NEASA, CEO, SAEFA, (SA) UEO, FEOSA – by email 

NUMSA; NUM, Solidarity; UASA – The Union; MEWUSA and SAEWA - by email 


The List of Registered Employer Organizations’ Federated to SEIFSA and Party to the MEIBC 

Association of Electrical Cable Manufacturers of South Africa 

Cape Engineers’ and Founders’ Association 

Constructional Engineering Association (South Africa) 

Electrical Engineering and Allied Industries’ Association 

Electrical Manufacturers’ Association of South Africa 

Gate and Fence Association 

Hand Tool Manufacturers’ Association 

Kwa-Zulu Natal Engineering Industries’ Association 

Iron and Steel Producers’ Association of South Africa 

Lift Engineering Association of South Africa 

Light Engineering Industries’ Association of South Africa 

Non-Ferrous Metal Industries’ Association of South Africa 

Eastern Cape Engineering and Allied Industries Association 

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Manufacturers’ and Suppliers’ Association 

S.A. Electro-Plating Industries’ Association 

S.A. Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors’ Association 

S.A. Pump Manufacturers’ Association 

S.A. Valve and Actuator Manufacturers’ Association 

Industry Wage Negotiations Kick-off


Negotiations this year will take place against a very difficult economic background. The sector is still in the throes of deep distress. A fragile economy, spiking unemployment, widespread business failures and huge job losses will no doubt test our mettle.

On a positive note, talks-about-talks are already well underway and to date all the parties have signed-off on a process or relationship agreement and a declaration to negotiate in good faith. A pre-bargaining conference was held on 7 February and a negotiating timetable has been agreed. Whilst all this on the surface may not seem to amount to much, it is all unprecedented and hopefully a sign that the difficulties we find ourselves in are shared by our union counterparts.

In terms of the timetable the following has been agreed:

Month Process Comments
7th February Pre-Bargaining Conference Understanding Industry Issues and Challenges
25th March


Submission and Exchanging of Demands and Triggering

Annexure E of the Council Constitution

Finalize respective parties demands, exchange of demands and triggering

Annexure E

10th April Commencement

of Negotiations

Commencement of   negotiations
24th April Negotiations Negotiations
8th May Negotiations Sign-off

You will observe we have set a tight time-line with the aim of settling early, within mandate and with minimal disruption. We understand how difficult this will be but this time round, parties are faced with a set of daunting circumstances that simply cannot be ignored. Manufacturing performance is anything but encouraging, persistently high interest rates, electricity outages, failing logistics and weak demand have all lead to a sector that is under siege.

Mandating, tactics and strategy will play a key role in delivering a sound agreement. We ask that member companies play their part in supporting their respective Associations who play an important role in formulating a consolidated mandate that allows the Main Agreement Negotiating Team to develop the tactics and strategy.

At the outset I extend a note of immense gratitude to all members of the 2024 Main Agreement Negotiating Team who during the process, will sacrifice an inordinate amount of time, effort and energy – over and above their day-to-day jobs – supporting the Office and me in ensuring that we meet the goals we have set.

This will be a difficult round but, in the end, we will succeed if we just stay the course.

Lucio Trentini

Chief Executive