Johannesburg, 23 August 2017 – The metals and engineering sector today signed the 2017-2020 metals and engineering sector settlement agreement at the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) offices in Johannesburg.
In terms of the agreement between the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) and the, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), Solidarity, the United Association of South Africa, the Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa and the South African Equity Workers Association, wages in the sector will increase by 7% in the current year, 6,75% in the second year and 6,5% in the third year.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, SEIFSA CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said the conclusion of the agreement was a culmination of four months of intensive talks, first within the MEIBC wherein SEIFSA worked closely with all the other employer parties, and subsequently in its direct engagements with the respective trade unions in the sector.
Mr Nyatsumba said the wage deal would bring much-needed stability in the sector which has been bleeding jobs over the past few years. He said SEIFSA and the respective labour partners were aware of the enormous damage wreaked on the sector by cheap, often subsidised imports from China and other Asian countries.
“The process was long and hard, and there were considerable challenges along the way, but we are hugely relieved that finally we and our labour partners were able to reach an historic agreement on realistic wage adjustments for the next three years.
“Neither we nor the unions are entirely happy with the agreement reached, but we can live with it. We believe that it is the best possible agreement that we could reach under the circumstances, and we believe that it is fair to both parties,” Mr Nyatsumba said.
He said the conclusion of the agreement was historic because, for the first time in a decade, the parties reached a settlement agreement without resorting to industrial action.
“We came into these negotiations with vastly different starting positions, as is usually the case during such negotiations. However, to the credit of the respective parties, we moved gradually over time to the realistic figures at which we eventually settled,” he said.
Mr Nyatsumba also responded to the persistent statements by the National Employers Association of South Africa that SEIFSA represents 30% of employers in the sector and that it represents only big companies. He said there were 23 independent employer Associations that were members of SEIFSA. The Associations collectively represented approximately 170 000 people. He said SEIFSA’s various Associations included both small, medium and large companies, with 66% of them being small companies employing fewer than 50 people.
“Unlike our detractors, SEIFSA and its members believe that labour is an important, indispensable partner, and not an enemy. We believe that it is fundamentally important for employers and labour to forge a strong relationship based on mutual respect to be able to engage meaningfully on what needs to be done to improve the welfare of the sector. We believe that the two stakeholder groups need to strive for win-win solutions at all times, because there is no business without labour, and there are no employees without employers,” Mr Nyatsumba said.
“I would like to thank our labour partners for the constructive manner in which we have engaged during these negotiations. We believe that it is vitally important that we continue to work together to resolve all outstanding matters and, more importantly, to ensure the continued survival of the embattled MEIBC,” he concluded.
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