The Bargaining Council’s Sub-Committee appointed to resolve the dispute declared by the trade unions on 15 June 2017 concluded its deliberations today (6 July) without reaching an agreement.
In the meeting today, the employers tabled a revised position covering the following key areas in an effort to resolve the dispute:
- a three-year agreement;
- extension of the terms of the agreement to non-parties;
- an entry-level wage rate;
- an offer to increase wages on actual rates of pay by 5,3% and by 5,5% on the minimum scheduled rates;
- a process to expedite the finalisation of the Main Agreement National Exemptions Policy; and
- a proposal to strengthen Clause 37 of the Main Agreement (i.e. the clause protecting members from being approached for plant-level bargaining on matters of a substantive nature).
This Revised Employer Offer was supported by all the SEIFSA-affiliated Associations, but NEASA elected not to associate itself with the offer and SAEFA and CEO respectively chose to reserve their rights. The Border Industries Association did not participate directly in the process.
On the whole, all the trade unions have rejected the Revised Employer Offer. However, some of them indicated their in-principle support for certain aspects of the offer and others expressed willingness to continue to engage with employers in an ongoing effort to reach an agreement. On the other hand, NUMSA rejected the offer outright and formally requested the issuing of a certificate confirming that the dispute remains unresolved.
It is important for member companies and Associations to note that no strike (and lock-out action) may be implemented unless:
- a certificate is issued by the General Secretary of the Bargaining Council, on instruction from the Management Committee, to any party wishing to proceed with industrial action;
- once a certificate is issued, the trade union/s must thereafter issue a clear and unambiguous 48 hours’ notice of an intention to embark on strike action;
- the Bargaining Council’s Management Committee is only scheduled to meet on 21 July 2017, which means that any industrial action can only take place 48 hours thereafter; OR
- on the expiry of 30 days from the declaration of dispute.
With the trade unions having declared their dispute on 15 June 2017, the 30-day period is due to lapse on Saturday, 15 July 2017. Therefore, strike action can only take place on or after 18 July 2017.
Please note that the issuing of a 48-hour notice of intention to strike does not necessarily mean that strike action will follow immediately. Usually, the notice to embark on industrial action will contain information on the commencement and nature of the intended strike action.
Upon receipt from any union/s of its/their notice to strike, SEIFSA will immediately respond with a 48-hour notice of its own of intended Lock-Out action, on behalf of all its member Associations and their respective member companies. This will have the effect of reserving the rights of individual member companies to implement a lock-out of all striking employees, should they wish to do so.
In accordance with the mandate from our member Associations, SEIFSA has so far worked in a close partnership with fellow employer organisations in the MEIBC. Again consistent with our mandate as revised by the SEIFSA Council on 26 June 2017, the SEIFSA Negotiating Team will now seek to engage directly with labour and other key stakeholders on our own. We hope to begin a series of bilateral engagements with labour as soon as possible, followed by engagements with other parties in an effort to avert an industry strike and to find a solution that is in the best interests of our constituency and the industry.
Representing SEIFSA in such bilateral engagements will be a senior delegation appointed by the SEIFSA Council, which includes SEIFSA’s Executive Management Team, some Board Members and Association Chairpersons of some of our member Associations.
We will continue to keep you and the SEIFSA Council informed of developments in these engagements. No agreement will be concluded with labour in such engagements unless it has the prior approval of the SEIFSA Council.
Kaizer M. Nyatsumba
Chief Executive Officer