ArcelorMittal SA and union reach wage agreement

South Africa’s largest steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa and the trade union UASA have reached a wage agreement.

In a statement on Wednesday, the union said that ArcelorMittal SA had initially refused to pay increases due to employees in terms of a multi-year collective agreement with effect from April 1 2009.

However, the unions—including UASA—“stuck to their guns”, stating that they had a legally binding wage agreement in their hands, Tim Kruger, divisional manager of UASA, said.

“Finally, this [Wednesday] morning, the company committed itself to pay the full 9,6% across the board with effect from April 1 2009 as per the agreement,” Kruger added.

He said that UASA was not ignorant of the economic and financial challenges facing the company and it had therefore proposed that a working group be established to jointly explore ways and means of cutting costs and alternatives to avoid restructuring of the workplace.

ArcelorMittal South Africa confirmed that the company and the trade unions representing about 74% of employees, had agreed on a 9,6% wage hike for the 12 months to March 31 2010.

“This is in line with the two-year wage agreement agreed to last year that made provision for CPIX (Consumer inflation less mortgage costs) inflation plus one percentage point salary adjustment this year,” company spokesperson Sven Lunsche told the South African Press Association.

“During the negotiations the company had proposed that the extent of the increase should be adjusted to reflect the difficult economic times, but after negotiations with the unions the company agreed to implement the agreement as stated,” he said.—Sapa


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