Numsa says no wage deal’s been struck

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) denied industry assertions on Friday it had reached a wage deal with steel and engineering firms and said it had not called off its strike.

Tens of thousands of steel workers downed tools nearly two weeks ago demanding a 13% wage rise, almost three times the inflation rate and nearly double the employers’ offer of 7%.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) said earlier an agreement had been reached on Thursday night and that it had brought the strike to an end.

“Numsa refutes reports that we have called off the strike and we have reached a settlement agreement with Seifsa,” Numsa said in a statement.

“We want to state clearly that no offer has been accepted or signed by the leadership of the union … As the union, we are currently busy engaging our members pertaining to the latest and revised offer,” it said.

Production and financial losses from the strike are expected to be substantial. Seifsa said earlier that workers would start returning to work from Monday.

Strikes spread this week as several sectors joined industrial action in the petrol industry that has raised concerns about fuel supplies in Africa’s biggest economy. If protracted economists have said it could cost billions of rand.

Tens of thousands of fuel workers began walking off the job on Monday, delaying deliveries and sparking panic buying at service stations in the economic hub of Gauteng province.

The Fuel Retailers’ Association told the South African Press Association that about 200 service stations in Gauteng alone had run dry by Friday morning and even though some stations were being refilled overnight, townships were being neglected.

Refineries are still operating and petrol is being delivered to most pump stations but a prolonged and widening strike could hurt the transport sector and impact economic growth.

Talks set for Monday
Economists said the cost of the fuel strike could run into the billions of rand should it continue into next week.

The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union said talks with employers were scheduled for Monday and but the industry said it was ready for to talk on Saturday and accused the union of delaying matters.

“We would like to encourage negotiators to facilitate a speedy resolution to the mutual benefit of all parties concerned,” employers and the energy ministry said in a joint statement, urging South Africans to refrain from panic buying which was aggravating the situation.

The latest to join the wave of strikes were 2 000 workers from Pioneer Food Group’s Sasko Grain unit, the Food and Allied Workers Union said on Friday.

Sasko division executive director Tertius Carstens said talks with the union were ongoing. The workers seek a 9% increase in wages, while the firm is offering 7.5%.

“The operating activities of some [production] sites have been affected to some degree,” Carstens said, but added that only around 500 workers were on strike.

The unit produces a broad ranged of grain-based foods such as flour, maize meal, rice and beans.

Unions and employers are locked in their mid-year bargaining session known as “strike season”, with many labour groups seeking wage increases that far exceed inflation.

Central bank and Treasury officials have said high wage increases threaten the outlook for inflation, interest rates and the long-term prospects for the economy.

Possible strikes also loom in South Africa’s platinum, coal and gold industries, threatening global supplies of the key commodities at a time when prices are red hot. — Reuters

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Small towns not ready for level 3

Officials in Beaufort West, which is on a route that links the Cape with the rest of the country, are worried relaxed lockdown regulations mean residents are now at risk of contracting Covid-19

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday