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South Africa: 300,000 auto workers impacted by delayed wage deal

13 April, 2023IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) are concerned by the unnecessary delay in publishing auto sector agreement in the government gazette. This process ensures that the wage agreement is extended to non-parties. The delay has impacted over 300 000 workers at fuel stations, car dealerships, vehicle body builders, and component manufacturers. 

Collective wage deals only become binding on non-parties after the Minister of Employment and Labour publishes it in the Government Gazette. This is referred to as gazetting, and it is from this point that all workers can benefit from it. Delaying this process delays workers’ access to benefits in the agreement.

The minister of labour took more than four months to gazette the agreement which was signed in November 2022 after extended negotiations. According to the agreement petrol attendants were awarded a wage increase of 5 per cent, car dealership workers got 6.5 per cent, and component supplier workers 7.5 per cent. At some point during the negotiations, NUMSA considered going on strike to push for the wage demands.

“Employers must immediately implement the increase and stop short-changing workers. There is no basis for employers in the fuel retail sector and the rest of the motor industry sector to delay the increase from the date the agreement was signed at the Motor Industries Bargaining Council (MIBCO) in November last year. They did this to maximize profits at the expense of workers. NUMSA condemns the actions of employers for delaying implementing the increase. Moving forward, the union will take necessary measures to ensure that in the future the department of labour gazettes the settlement agreement immediately,”

said Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary.

South African labour laws allow for the extension of the agreements reached at bargaining councils to entire sectors provided that the extensions are supported by most unions and employers. Bargaining councils are formed by employer organizations and trade unions, and the extensions are done through gazettes by the minister of labour. The extension of the agreement to non-parties improves wages in the entire sector. 

“Unnecessary delays in gazetting the agreement meant workers continued to struggle to meet the escalating cost of living while employers refused to pay what was due to them. We support NUMSA in its demands to end this prejudice,”

said Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa.