Speaking after the end of a special meeting of the Federation’s Council – which is made up of the chairpersons of Associations affiliated to SEIFSA, Mr Nyatsumba expressed relief that employers and labour finally reached an agreement on outstanding matters, particularly on Section 37 which was the major point of difference in the past few weeks.

“We are immensely relieved that the strike is finally over. It is now incumbent on all stakeholders in the metals and engineering sector to work cooperatively together to grow the sector and to ensure that it is internationally competitive. The sector has a very important role to play in the delivery of the Government’s ambitious infrastructure development programme over the next few years, and that can happen only when a strong partnership exists between business and labour,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

He explained that although SEIFSA’s preferred wording on Section 37 was not accepted by the union, the Federation’s Council was satisfied that a compromise wording reached over the weekend would protect companies from two-tier bargaining.

The wording agreed upon reads as follows: “The parties agree that, subject to the full and final settlement clause, Section 37 remains unchanged.

“The 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2017 MEIBC Settlement Agreement amends existing terms and conditions of employment of all employees covered by the Main Agreement and is in full and final settlement of wages and conditions of employment for the period of the agreement.”

Mr Nyatsumba expressed appreciation to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and her team for the major role that they had played in brokering the agreement. He said that the Minister and her team had engaged in shuttle diplomacy between the parties, but especially SEIFSA and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

“We are grateful to Minister Oliphant for the leadership that she showed in this matter. It is no exaggeration to say that, had she and her team not been involved in the process, the strike may well be continuing,” Mr Nyatsumba said.