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Rustenburg – Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) has revealed the nationwide strike for a 6% wage increase by National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) members has cost that sector about R500 million in lost output.
The negative effects of the engineering strike, which is in its third week now, is likely to be felt more in areas such as Rustenburg where the sector is closely linked to the mining industry.
SEIFSA, which represents 18 organisations employing 170,000 workers in the metals and engineering sector, fears that a prolonged strike could result in irreparable damage to a sector that was beginning to recover from the effects of successive Covid-19 induced lockdowns.
However, on Tuesday 19 October NUMSA – which announced it would continue pushing for improved working conditions – released a statement justifying their demands.
“The global steel industry has recovered from the impact of lockdowns and the Covid-19 pandemic, and according to news reports, by April of this year, the global price of iron ore had doubled. The engineering industry has benefitted from this performance on the markets,” NUMSA said.
“We urge all employer associations to come to the table and settle on 6% on the actual rates of pay, or based on what workers are actually earning, instead of 6% on the minimum rate so that we can put an end to the strike.”
In Rustenburg, striking NUMSA members handed a memorandum of demands to SEIFSA and the National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA) representatives during a protest on 8 October.
Deputy regional secretary for NUMSA in Rustenburg Steven Mini, who took part in the strike, told Platinum Weekly:
“We have not received an increase in the engineering industry for the past four years now. We deserve fair wages.”
Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said while workers have a right to protest, they must refrain from violent conduct. He urged both parties to find an amicable solution.
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