Numsa wage strike looms

Hundreds of metalworkers from the engineering sector are likely to down tools if the Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) gets a strike certificate this week.

This after the union and the sector employers minimum wage negotiations reached a stalemate last month.

In the Eastern Cape six major employers that will be affected by the strike include Defy, Schnellecke SA, Millberg Manufacturing, Magneto Wheels and Infra-Structural Works.

Numsa regional secretary Mziyanda Twani said the union was still consulting members at shop level about when to take to the streets, if they do get the strike certificate.

The union is demanding a 15% wage increase across the board. Numsa says this should be based on the actual rate that a worker earns and not on the minimum rate.

“The actual day of the strike will be announced after the special national executive committee special meeting. We are looking at the possibility of including the related sectors into the strike which would then include the Mercedes-Benz South Africa, General Motors and other automotive companies,” he said.

Twani said there would be a total shutdown if the plastic and automotive sectors joined them.

Numsa national spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi said if the engineering sector strike happened, it would be a result of their fight to block employers from implementing a poverty wage.

“We have requested a certificate of non-resolution which will allow us to go on strike. The union will wait until July 15 to see if it will be granted a strike certificate. Current wage agreements with the employers lapsed at the end of last month,” said Hlubi .

The unions said employers wanted to implement a minimum rate of R20 per hour for new entrants to the sector while it maintains that should be R40.

Numsa said the proposed agreement by the employers worsen the working conditions. The union also blamed the ANC for the employers’ position, saying it ignored the union’s advice on minimum wage proposals.

“We warned the ANC that the proposed national minimum wage would have disastrous consequences, but they arrogantly ignored us. Now their proposal is causing chaos in the engineering sector by ensuring that workers who fought to earn more, now risk being downgraded to this pathetic poverty wage,” said Hlubi.

ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.

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