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Back to back strikes continue in South Africa

12 September, 2013As strikes in the gold sector and auto sector come to an end, workers in motor sector start strike action for better wages in a heated bargaining season for South Africa.

Employers in the Gold sector rapidly came to the negotiating table with an improved offer, after the National Union of Mineworkers mobilised 80,000 gold miners on a strike action starting 3 September after wage talks reached a deadlock. The strike ended within days with agreements reached on a company by company basis and formalised in a signing ceremony at the Chamber of Mines on 10 September.

Gold mining workers agreed to a settlement of 8 per cent increase for the lowest paid workers and 7.5 per cent for the rest. Inflation linked increases were also agreed to for 2014. Workers will also receive Euro 15 a month increase on their living out allowances in the first year which will be increased by a further Euro 15 in the second.

30,000 auto sector workers organised by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa ended the strike after employers including BMW, Toyota and VW revised their offer from 7 per cent to 11.5 per cent. The strike that started on 19 August went on for three weeks as workers refused the 10 per cent offer brought to them during the strike, sending Numsa back to the negotiation table.

Numsa also agreed to a 10 per cent increase for auto workers in the second year and again in the third year as well as a Euro 100 transport allowance a year, a Euro 62 monthly housing allowance and 70 per cent contribution to medical aid by employers.

As one strike came to an end, another began for Numsa, this time in the motor sector as 70,000 workers have downed tools on 9 September, after a deadlock in negotiations with employer bodies the Retail Motor Industry and the Fuel Retailers’ Association. Workers have rejected a 7 per cent wage offer and are demanding a double digit salary increase and an improvement of afternoon shift and night shift allowance.  

Whilst employers have complained about the cost of the strikes to companies and the economy, South African workers and their unions have found it necessary to put up a fight for better wages in the face of increasing cost of living and have come out victorious.