From the news desk

Numsa lowers wage demand

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Numsa on Sunday said it lowered its wage increase demand to 10 percent, in a bid to end the strike in the metals and engineering sector.

“As a union we are ready to end the current strike with a one-year agreement and a 10 percent increase,” National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim told reporters in Johannesburg.

“It is not us who is delaying this; it is the employer.”

He said the union rejected the employers’ first offer, which it said was an insult.

Numsa members in the metals and engineering sector downed tools on July 1 for a salary hike of 12 percent with effect from July 1, and a R1000 housing allowance in a one-year bargaining agreement. It originally wanted 15 percent.

The union further wanted a ban on the use of labour brokers.

Numsa now wanted a 10 percent wage increase each year for the next three years.

Jim accused employers of misleading the public by suggesting they had given workers a double-digit increase.

“The truth is that employers want to secure a three-year agreement and they are only offering 10 percent in the first year.

“When they made an improvement, it was an offer of an extra 0.5 percent; meaning the offer of employers is currently 10 percent for the first year, 9.5 percent for the second year, and nine percent for the third,” he said.

Jim said the offer was taken to members on Thursday and rejected.

“Our members are very clear that if employers want a three-year agreement, they must meet workers’ demand of double-digit increases which should be on an ascending scale. Failing which, our members shall settle for nothing less than 10 percent for the first year, 10 percent for the second year and 10 percent for the third year,” he said.

Employer body, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA, tabled a three-year wage offer of between eight and 10 percent for different levels of workers in the first year.

The first category of worker was offered seven percent in 2015 and 2016, while the others were offered nine percent in the second year, and eight percent in the final year.

Jim said the strike would continue indefinitely.

“We are making a very clear statement that the strike continues, and we call on our members to intensify the strike,” Jim said.

He said should employers continue with what he called “reckless shenanigans” and “unreasonable demands”, Numsa would call for targeted solidarity action in all sectors. SAPA

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