Engineering Workers Strike: SA Economy Under Serious Threat

At the weekend, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa)
announced that its members would embark on rolling mass action in
demand of a 13 percent salary increase. Employers in the sector were
offering seven percent.

“Workers are striking in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, East London and
Cape Town,” said Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese.

Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal workers would hold demonstrations on
Monday, while workers in the Free State and Northern Cape would start
their work stoppage on Tuesday.

Numsa, which represents about 120,000 workers, would be joined by five
other trade unions, jointly representing at least another 50,000
workers.

According to the Steel Engineering Industries’ Federation of SA’s
(Seifsa) website, it had received strike notifications from the
Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers’ Union
(Ceppwawu), and the Metal and Electrical Workers’ Union (Mewusa).

United Association of SA (Uasa) senior manager Johan van Niekerk said
Uasa, Solidarity and the SA Equity Workers’ Association (Saewa), would
also participate.
He said Uasa members were preparing to march in Johannesburg on Monday morning.

“The employers’ salary offer did not meet our demands,” said Van Niekerk.
Ceppwawu plastics sector co-ordinator Clement Chitja said the six
unions were working together.

“We all have the same common demands,” he said.

The Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) on
Monday said that while wage negotiations were reaching the “power play
stage”, it was confident an agreement would be reached.

“The council has urged all employers to follow the industry-accepted
principle of ‘no work, no pay, no discipline’ in the event of
protected industrial action.”

The MEIBC said it had received notices of intended lock-out action from Seifsa.
The strike started on Monday after the Labour Court’s weekend
dismissal of an application for an interdict to stop the strike,
brought by the Plastic Converters’ Association.

“The Labour Court decision effectively upholds the right of all
employees and employers in the industry to engage in protected
industrial action on Monday, 4 July 2011 in the metal and engineering
industry,” the MEIBC said.

Seifsa, which according to its website represents 28 employer
organisations, was not immediately available for comment.

In a notice posted on the website in May, it said the metal industry’s
four-year wage and conditions of employment agreement would expire on
June 30.

The agreement covered 9000 companies and about 348,000 workers. – Sapa