After three formal engagements SEIFSA and NUMSA have concluded the terms of a historic three-year wage agreement for the period 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2027.

Following a bruising round of wage negotiations in 2021 which peaked in a three-week strike costing the industry in excess of R600 million rand per day in lost revenue, this year’s agreement was reached in record time, with no industry disruption and within mandate.

The SEIFSA affiliated membership which accounts for 57% of all employees, employed by all the employer organizations on the bargaining council and NUMSA representing in excess of 115 000 members signed the agreement today at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg.

“This agreement is a testament to the commitment by the social partners to seek a settlement as soon as possible and with minimal disruption,” said Mr. Trentini.

The agreement was reached on the foundation laid by the signing of a process agreement by all the parties prior to the commencement of the negotiations – this strategic innovative approach was also in itself an unprecedented event.

‘’The process agreement set the road-map to settlement, a pledge to negotiate in good faith, outlined the context, tone and architecture of the negotiations,” said Mr. Trentini.

This year’s agreement, as was the case in 2021, prescribes wage increases to be calculated on the scheduled or gazetted minimum rates of pay per grade over the next three years. Rate A in year 1 will receive 6%; Rate H 7% and in years two and three of the agreement, Rate A will receive 5% and Rate H 6% respectively.

Apart from wage increases and this year’s agreement being reached almost two months before the expiry of the current agreement – again an unprecedented feat (in 2021 agreement was reached in October), the deal contains no additional and/or immediate cost to employment concessions. Importantly however, the exemption and special phase-in exemption dispensation for employers who feel that a degree of relief from the agreement is required is retained.  This is in direct response and a clear acknowledgement by the parties to also cater for SMME’s, their challenges, dynamics and sustainability.

“Of historical importance is the commitment by the parties to meaningfully address access to housing for industry workers,” Mr. Trentini said.

The parties have agreed to request the Board of Trustees of the Metals and Engineering Industries Benefit Funds, who oversee investments under management in excess of R149 billion, to develop an institutional framework, covering amongst other, eligibility and legal criteria, funding model/s, subsidy mechanisms and/or programmes and substantive policy approaches within three (3) months of the signing this agreement.

In addition, “stakeholders have agreed to convene and jointly formulate an industrial policy framework focused on re-building and repairing public infrastructure, alleviating bottlenecks constraining economic growth while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the metals and engineering sector,” said Mr. Trentini.

Finally, a number of outstanding issues have been identified and referred to various working groups and committees for further investigation, discussion and processing.

“SEIFSA applauds the trade unions for staying the course and living the bold, courage’s and ambitious goals and objectives embodied in the process agreement,” said Mr. Trentini.

“Three decades into our democracy it is heartening to witness that it is indeed possible for negotiating partners, in the heat of robust and adversarial collective bargaining to put the interests of the metals and engineering sector – and, indeed, the interests of our country – first,” Mr. Trentini said.