Mr Nyatsumba said that at its meeting in Johannesburg yesterday afternoon, the SEIFSA Council resolved that SEIFSA should continue to seek for a settlement to the current impasse through formal MEIBC structures in discussion with all trade unions active in the sector. The Federation will also continue to work with the other employer bodies.

The Council – which represents the leadership of the various employer Associations affiliated to SEIFSA – expressed great disappointment at the fact that a very good offer made to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) last week, in an attempt to end the current strike as soon as possible, was rejected. The Council felt that the Federation had spent a considerable amount of time in talks with the leadership of NUMSA and had absolutely nothing to show for it.

That offer has since been withdrawn. Instead, SEIFSA’s current offer on the table is 10% in 2014, 9% in 2015 and 8% in 2016 respectively for Rate H workers, and 8% in 2014, 7,5% in 2015 and 7% in 2016 respectively for Rate A workers.

While it remains very concerned about the damage wreaked on the economy by the current industrial action, the SEIFSA Council has now accepted reluctantly that NUMSA appeared determined to continue with the strike indefinitely. The Council stressed the need for a reasonable, three-year wage settlement that would give the sector an opportunity to focus on business during this period, without worrying about the possibility of wage-related strikes each year.

“Regrettably, our genuine efforts to bring the strike to an end as soon as possible were not successful. We have now decided to work with all stakeholders within the Bargaining Council in the hope of securing an agreement. We welcome the fact that the MEIBC has scheduled a facilitated plenary session to take place this week,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

He said that the strike, which cost the country more than R300 million per day in the metals and engineering sector alone, now inflicted even more damage to the economy because it has since affected other related sectors like auto manufacturing.