South Africa – South African metal workers are up in arms against the low pay scale and have gone on an indefinite strike from the beginning of this week. They are seeking an eight percent wage increment. The workforce of 1.5million workers have gone off work and this will definitely disturb the industrial outputs. The union comprises 4.3 million workers.
The strike has come after initial talks with the employer bodies did not yield any great results and arbitrations failed. Apart from the eight percent, they are seeking compensation of two percent above the inflation rate for the following two years too.
“We are left with no choice but to strike and to withhold our labor indefinitely until the bosses give into our just demands,” NUMSA said in a statement. The strike is going to affect major automobile companies like BMW, Nissan, and Ford which have major plants in South Africa for assembly.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), is one of the largest unions in the country and has great standing amongst its workers.
Apart from the automobile industry, the strike will also affect some mining, construction, and engineering companies whose employees are members of the union.
Despite the state-owned companies getting funded and preferential treatment by the government, the buck stops there. They have been unable to address the needs of their worker lifeline.
The demands of NUMSA included family responsibility leave, discussions that they have been pursuing since June of this year. The union has said they are going to stick to their guns and not retreat.
According to Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) CEO Lucio Trentini, “NUMSA’s demands are absolutely not affordable, we have offered a three-year deal, linked to 4.4 percent a year of CPI in the first year, 2.5 percent in the second year and 1 percent on-year three. Entry-level workers in this industry, with the provident fund, family responsibility, and other incentives gives general workers something between R12 000 to R12 500.”
The strike is mounting daily losses for companies. Numsa is essentially deadlocked with all employer associations in engineering, including the National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA), SEIFSA, and the South African Engineers and Founders Association (SAEFA).
According to Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali who spoke to the media, the strike is legally protected currently and is focused on pushing both the government and the private sector to act. A detailed report last month showed how neglect and corruption in state-owned companies under the tutelage of the government itself have had a domino effect on the lives of low wage workers in South Africa.