JOHANNESBURG, 21 May 2014 – Employers in the metal and engineering sector today (Wednesday, 21 May) made labour unions in the sector an offer of a 6,1% increase on the cost of employment for the financial year beginning in July this year.

The offer, made at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg in negotiations which began on 16 April, is linked to the consumer price index over a three-year period. The unions are expected to respond to the wage offer when negotiations resume on Friday.

Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba said the offer was consistent with employers’ view that saving existing jobs and creating new ones should be the priority within the sector.

Negotiations today opened with the trade unions responding in detail to the various employer demands tabled at the beginning of the negotiations. In their response, employers represented by SEIFSA presented a three-year wage offer comprising the following key elements: 

  • Wage increases for existing employees across the board to be indexed against the CPI released by Statistics South Africa for the month of April for each one of the three years;
  • And a reduction of 50% on all existing minimum scheduled wage rates to be introduced and applied to all new entrants at any level of work in order to stimulate employment in the sector.

The Federation stressed that the offer was made on a total cost-of-employment basis, with no other substantive changes to employment conditions. However, employers would be prepared to consider reviewing and/or varying terms and conditions of employment contained in the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council’s Main Agreement in exchange for increasing the wage offer, provided that the total cost of employment does not exceed CPI

In his opening remarks this morning, Mr Nyatsumba stressed that, although the signing of a Peace Accord that would regulate workers’ conduct in the event of a strike was no longer a precondition, SEIFSA nevertheless remained determined that such an agreement needed to be reached in the course of the negotiations. He also emphasised that employer Associations federated to SEIFSA would not sign any agreement that was concluded if the threat posed to collective bargaining by recent Labour Court judgements was not removed.

The negotiations are scheduled to continue on Friday 23 May.