"We are not just looking after the interests of the employers – we are looking after the interests of the workers" - NEASA

"We are not just looking after the interests of the employers – we are looking after the interests of the workers" - NEASA

South African employer body, NEASA, says the trade union leading the country's recent huge metalworking strike should concentrate on the issues, rather than resorting to 'personal battles.'

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) was at the forefront of the near five-week walkout, which saw 220,000 metalworkers strike in support of a three-year pay claim.

NEASA is refusing to sign an agreement inked yesterday (29 July) in Johannesburg, which saw the  Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEISFA) agree the three-year wage increase with NUMSA, consisting of a 10% wage rise per year until 2016 for the sector's lowest paid workers.

However, in a fiery denunciation of NEASA's position, which among others, insists its members are unable to afford the 10% increase, NUMSA issued a statement in which it referred to "inflammatory and poisonous statements," which it attributes to the chief executive, Gerhard Papenfus.

NEASA's view is any employer who is not a member of the SEIFSA employers organisations, should not be bound "in any way" to the deal meaning 10,000-12,000 organisations would not be affected by the agreement in its opinion.

"We just feel NUMSA should focus on the issue at hand and not make it a personal battle," a NEASA spokeswoman told just-auto from Pretoria.

"We are not just looking after the interests of the employers - we are looking after the interests of the workers."

NEASA has asked its members to lock out those engaged in strike action from its premises, with the spokeswoman confirming it was currently seeking feedback concerning the full situation.