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Numsa considers new offer from employers

THE National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is considering a new offer from employers and its regional structures are expected to decide on Thursday over ending the 10-day wage strike.

Numsa leaders met to receive feedback on the wage negotiations on Wednesday, ahead of convening regional meetings with members to receive a renewed mandate to find a settlement.

A series of talks between Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and the parties had resulted in employers and the union demonstrating an “encouraging commitment ” to ending the strike, Department of Labour spokesman Mokgadi Pela said on Wednesday. Further, the parties had demonstrated “maturity”.

It is understood that Numsa will be taking an offer to members that is different from last week’s one. The new offer is believed not to exceed a 10% increase in the first year.

Earlier on in the strike the union undertook not to accept anything less than a double-digit increase. Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese said the union was considering the “latest offer” from employers. He declined to comment further.

Employer body the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) has indicated that it had revised its offer of up to 8% upwards to 10% last Friday.

But the issues under discussion go beyond pay increases, with more than 35 separate items related to other demands.

The union rejected the deal and has continued to demand an end to labour broking and the youth wage subsidy.

Seifsa has said it cannot give in to “political” demands regarding government policy.

Formally, Numsa has demanded a 12% wage increase but has indicated it was close to a wage settlement. It has further demanded a R1,000 housing allowance, as well as changes to the practice of placing employees on extended short time.

The strike has hit thousands of companies across the manufacturing sector, having an impact directly on the 10,500 companies within the Metals and Engineering Sector Bargaining Council and indirectly on businesses reliant on affected suppliers.

Seifsa has estimated that the strike is costing the South African economy about R300m a day.

The strike has also negatively affected car manufacturers. General Motors SA and BMW SA have been forced to either cut or slow production because of a shortage of components.

Last year, local car manufacturers were hit with a month-long strike by Numsa. The strike cost the industry more than R20bn.

The car manufacturers have put in place contingency measures, but are expected to come under pressure if the strike continues into next week. So far, widespread violence and intimidation have marked the strike.

The South African Police Service has made about 100 arrests.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega is expected to seek a meeting with Numsa leaders to address violence and intimidation and possible union liability for damages.

Ms Phiyega’s spokesman, Solomon Makgale, said on Wednesday that the meeting had been sought because of strike-related violence which continued on Wednesday.

“We have sent a request for a meeting to Numsa,” he said. “They have acknowledged our request and promised to revert to us. We are ready to meet and we look forward to receiving confirmation.”

Numsa denied involvement in violence and called for discipline in what could be “an indefinite strike”.

In a brief address shortly before the Numsa meeting on Wednesday, union president Andrew Chirwa said the union would look into allegations of violence and intimidation against members.

Source – BDLive