SEIFSA Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba dismissed “with the contempt that it deserves” NEASA Chief Executive Officer Gerhard Papenfus’s wild allegation, in a press statement today, that the Federation had betrayed the interests of small business.

“For quite some time now, Papenfus has been making all sorts of allegations against a number of stakeholders, among them us. He appears to be absolutely desperate to attract attention to himself and his organisation, including through making wild and unsubstantiated claims against others,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

He said that over the past few weeks NEASA had alleged repeatedly that the wage offers made by SEIFSA to unions within the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC), in an effort to avoid a protracted strike, represented the interests of big business.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Although some of the largest companies in our sector are also members of Associations affiliated to SEIFSA, by far the majority of our members are small companies employing fewer than 50 people. That constituency makes 63 percent of the companies within the SEIFSA fold and informs everything that SEIFSA does,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

Mr Nyatsumba said that SEIFSA – which was among the founders of the MEIBC 70 years ago – was deeply committed to the collective bargaining process, hence its insistence that it would not sign any resulting agreement unless it was satisfied that matters discussed during the negotiations would not be taken up with member companies at company level in an attempt to double dip. Mr Nyatsumba said SEIFSA stood firm by its demand that an agreement needed to be reached on Section 37 of the Main Agreement. 

“What South Africa needs are mature employers’ organisations and unions that put the country’s interests first, and not ones given to puerile tantrums and that seek to behave as if we were still in our despicable, bygone era. Just as making political demands and embarking on strike at the drop of a hat is unacceptable, so, too, is a bull-in-a-china-shop approach that opposes everything for the sake of opposing,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

He said that SEIFSA was very concerned about the damage caused to the economy by the current strike, and the organisation had done everything possible to avoid a strike. Once the strike had started, SEIFSA had again worked very hard to get it ended as soon as possible.

“We are very disappointed that, despite having made our very best offer on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to end the strike, NUMSA has not yet got back to us with a response. We made it plain to the union that Tuesday’s was the very last offer to be made by SEIFSA, and that it would be removed from the table if it were not accepted,” he said.

Mr Nyatsumba said that, out of concern about the strike’s effect on the economy, the majority of the Federation’s members had approved a final offer of 10% in 2014, 9,5% in 2015 and 9% in 2016 respectively for Rate H workers and an offer of 8% in 2014, 7,5% in 2015 and 7% respectively for Rate A. He said that SEIFSA members had done so in the hope that workers on strike would be back at work next week.

Mr Nyatsumba said that although he had seen reports in the media quoting anonymous sources as saying that NUMSA had rejected SEIFSA’s final offer, he had not received any official response from the metalworkers union.