Negotiations on the 3rd and 4th June held between SEIFSA representing the 19 affiliated Employer Organisations, NUMSA, Solidarity, UASA, MEWUSA and the SAEWA at the MEIBC, facilitated by a Senior CCMA Commissioner, culminated in the calling for a Metals and Engineering Industries National State of Disaster Support and Recovery Plan in order to afford the industry an opportunity to re-set, reposition and prepare the groundwork for business survival, stability, certainty and industrial peace.
With South Africa’s economic outlook unlike any situation experienced before SEIFSA argued that the time had come for parties to work together and more so, in the area of collective bargining, to construct a collective agreement that has the potential to offer something to everyone. SEIFSA argued that such an agreement could be constructed on four pillars:
Firstly, how do we fairly compensate employees who have endured unimaginable suffering in the last 18 months, whilst at the same time ensuring that employers, who likewise have suffered, are not priced out of the market, leading intentionally or unintentionally to further business failures and job losses;
Secondly, what time span will be needed to achieve this end objective?
Thirdly, under what conditions if any, will non-SEIFSA affiliated organisations be prepared to commit to such a plan; and
Finally, how best do the architects of this envisaged plan make a compelling case for non-affiliated employer organisations to seriously consider what may be possible and simultaneously and importantly keep the SEIFSA affiliated membership on board?
In closing SEIFSA referred to a nexus or connectivity between the four pillars stressing that if the negotiating partners are able to agree on the detail at the centre of the overlapping points, the MEIBC may just be on the verge of achieving something that has not been achieved over the last ten years, namely a collective agreement that enjoys at best the support of all and at worst the support of most.
With negotiations set to continue on 21st and 22nd June 2021, SEIFSA gave notice that it intends to reach out and attempt to work with all employer and trade union stakeholder, testing and challenging traditional and long established paradigms in order to determine whether indeed it is possible to move forward, ideally with the support of all but at the very least with the support of the majority.
We will continue to keep all members fully informed as developments unfold.
L Trentini, Operations Director: SEIFSA