Over 220,000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) have embarked on an indefinite strike in the metal and engineering sectors today, 1 July 2014.
“This was not an easy decision, but a painful one,” reads a Numsa statement from the National Executive Committee meeting last week. “It has never been in our agenda to call a strike; this strike has been imposed on us. Ours is to use the strike as part of a tactic to exert organizational pressure on the bosses, to return to the table and present an offer acceptable to our members.”
Numsa declared a dispute at the end of May after two months of negotiations with the employer bodies, under the auspices of the Metal and Engineering Bargaining Council (MEIBC), failed to achieve an agreement. Workers initially demanded a 15 per cent wage increase but had reduced it to 12 per cent when the dispute was declared. The 220,000 Numsa members on strike represent around half of all workers in the sectors.
Numsa is also demanding that the bargaining agreement with MEIBC covers one year and not a three year period as has been the practice in the past. The union wants employers to agree to scrap the use of labour brokers, and remove the short time and layoff clauses from the main agreement.