Quarter million workers vote to strike

But whether the workers will go ahead with the strikes will be decided at two crucial meetings at the week- end and early next week. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is expected to hold report-back meetings at the weekend. And officials of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) meet on Monday to discuss the pending strike.

The union is almost certain to call a special congress to decide whether to go on strike or not. NUM strike ballot results show that over 80 percent of the more than 20 000 union members employed at 27 goldmines and 18 collieries covered by the Chamber of Mines agreement,favoured strike action to resolve the dispute with the chamber.

The NUM and the chamber deadlocked over:

  • A 30 percent wage increase across the board
  • A five year death benefit pay-out
  • Danger pay
  • Thirty days paid leave
  • June 16 as a paid holiday.

The chamber has in the meantime gone ahead with introducing the final package offered to the union when they deadlocked at the Conciliation Board on June 30. The package includes an increase of between 17 and 23 percent on all but three of the goldmines and between 15 and 23,4 percent on coalmines. At the save time over 70 percent of the 85 000 Numsa members at 500 factories also voted in favour of a strike.

Numsa incorporating the Metal and Allied Workers’ Union, deadlocked with Seifsa over national wage negotiations two weeks ago. Fifteen other unions in the metal council which negotiated with Seifsa agreed to accept the employers’ increase offer of between 39 cents and hour and 72 cents per hour for artisans.

Mawu also demanded paid holidays on May 1 and June 16, which Seifsa rejected. Other demands were for an end to Pay As You Earn deductions, a 40 hour week with no loss of pay, job security, improved maternity and paternity leave and trade union rights.

Meanwhile several strikes are looming in the chemical industry after wage talks with the 30 000 strong Chemical Workers’ Industrial Union (CWIU) deadlocked this week.  

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail newspaper

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Sefako Nyaka
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