16 March 2020

Dear Metals and Engineering Sector Stakeholder




There is a good chance that, by now, you have had at least one of NEASA’s newsletters referring deprecatingly to the forthcoming negotiations with labour, within the MEIBC, on wages and conditions of employment. It is that organisation’s right to communicate to stakeholders in the sector; we do not always respond to its fulminations, but we feel obliged to do so in this case because of NEASA’s unhealthy obsession with SEIFSA and its tendency to bend the truth when it suits it.  

While we are accustomed to it by now, nevertheless we find that organisation’s conduct no less bizarre, especially considering that NEASA has not signed an agreement in the MEIBC since 2010/ 2011 and has, by its own admission, spent R24 million of its members’ money on litigating against all and sundry: the trade unions, the Department of Employment and Labour and, of course, SEIFSA, its nemesis and preferred scapegoat.  

In the interest of transparency and the truth, we provide you with the facts below:

  • NEASA represents approximately 59 000 employees in a Bargaining Council that represents approximately 308 000 employees, which is less than 20% of the employees on the payroll of all the employer organisations represented on the MEIBC; while
  • Employers that are members of Associations which sit on the Bargaining Council and are affiliated to SEIFSA represent 56% of employees on the MEIBC.

It is strange but understandable, given its unhealthy obsession with SEIFSA, that NEASA makes no mention whatsoever of either the six other employer organisations that sit on the MEIBC, or the other four trade unions, in addition to NUMSA, that will soon be commencing negotiations in the sector.

Just as employees have a right to join (or not join) any trade union of their choice, so, too, do employers have a right to join (or not) any organisation of their choice. Freedom of association (or choice) is, after all, one of the key rights enshrined in our Constitution as a country. 

Today’s economy is global. In our experience, most companies value stability and predictability, and not bluster, hot air and empty promises. They recognize that pre-1994 South Africa is gone – and gone for good and not coming back. It is our experience that these companies are perfectly capable of making informed choices – and do not need to be fed propaganda and told what to do.

The Main Agreement is a comprehensive set of terms and conditions of employment covering everything from how to deal with load shedding, short-time, implementing a lay-off and, of course, wages.

The stark reality is that no other piece of legislation or agreement that NEASA may have under its sleeve shows you, legally, how to respond to these challenges. We have found, over the years, that many companies in the metals and engineering sector consider the Main Agreement which is concluded in the negotiations to be their operating manual, their compass and their guide in responding to everyday shop-floor problems and other challenges faced by employers in surviving the most volatile of times being experienced in living memory.

SEIFSA is made up of more than 20 independent Employer Associations – representing small, medium-sized and large companies – and the Associations together develop our negotiating mandate. We operate strictly in accordance with that mandate.  

We implore you, therefore: pay no heed to the bluster and bravado of the likes of NEASA, which has not concluded any deal with any union in this sector in the past decade. The organisation excels only in sowing discord, uncertainty and instability at a time when real leadership is required.


Kaizer M. Nyatsumba
Chief Executive Officer