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.