SOUTH AFRICA: Confusion reigns as NEASA refuses to ratify strike deal
South African exporters will hope to resume normal work, although one employer body disputes the deal
South Africa's metalworking union (NUMSA) says the majority of its members have returned to work today (29 July), although confusion remains with one employer body refusing to recognise the pay deal to end the strike due to be signed in Johannesburg this afternoon.
The nearly five-week long industrial dispute severly dented several automakers' ability to produce vehicles as suppliers had difficulties with components, with the walk-out coming hard on the heels of similar industrial unrest in South Africa.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa accepted a revised pay offer from employer body, SEIFSA (Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa), worth 10%, 10% and 10% for the lowest paid and 8%, 7% and 7% for the highest, up to 2016, but the National Employers' Association of South Africa (NEASA) says it will lock out employees as a result.
NEASA claims the deal agreed between NUMSA and SEIFSA is "unsustainable," while also insisting the latter body only represents 2,039 employers or less than 18% of the country's metal industry companies totalling up to 14,000 staff.
"It needs to be emphasised any employer, who is not a member of the SEIFSA employers organisations, who signed this agreement, is not bound in any way whatsoever by this settlement agreement," said NEASA chief executive, Gerhard Papenfus.
"This means at least 10,000 - 12,000 employers or more than 80% of the industry, is unaffected by this agreement. The problem here is NUMSA sees SEIFSA as weak and a negotiating partner out of which anything can be squeezed.
"The economy and this industry is paying a hard price for this arrangement."
NUMSA vigorously disputes the numbers however, maintaining the majority of its 220,000 members on strike, have now returned to work and that it will look to address the matter with NEASA legally.
"Some employers have locked out our members, at NEASA," NUMSA head of collective bargaining, Stephen Nhlapo, told just-auto from South Africa. "We will be interdicting them - we will be taking them to Court.
"We want to go as urgent [ly], as quickly, as we can. We want to go tomorrow, depending on Court availability."
The main agreement is due to be inked this afternoon near Johannesburg through the auspices of the South African Metal and Engineering Industry Bargaining Council (MEIBC).
NUMSA says it will now take the deal to the South African Ministry of Labour to be gazetted or formalised.
NEASA adds it will petition the Labour Minister not to extend the deal to non-signatories.
"If she, notwithstanding NEASA's submissions to her, goes ahead and extend the agreement, NEASA will institute review proceedings in the Labour Court to have it set aside, similar to what NEASA has done with the 2011-14 Metal Industry Agreement," said a statement from the employer association.