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Wage talks in the engineering sector have reached an impasse, and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has now applied for a strike certificate. The decision on whether a strike will be allowed will be made later this week.

Numsa applies for strike certificate“We warned the ANC that the National Minimum Wage they had proposed would have disastrous consequences‚ but they arrogantly ignored us. Now their proposal is causing chaos in the engineering sector by ensuring that workers who fought to earn more‚ now risk being downgraded to this pathetic poverty wage of R20 per hour. At the end of the day the ANC will always fight to protect big business and White monopoly capital at the expense of workers and their families,” Numsa said in a statement.

“Employers are lying when they say that those who earn more will not get downgraded. We know that in reality‚ there is no one to stop them from paying workers half of what they should earn. If we were to agree to this ridiculous proposal‚ then new workers will suffer‚ and those already employed will earn less than what they are earning now.”

Numsa is demanding a two-year 15% wage increase “across the board”, backdated from 1 July 2017. Employers are offering an increase based on the minimum wage rate.

The current offer is in line with government’s recent minimum wage deal with Cosatu, which established a rate of R20 an hour for new entrants. According to Numsa, however, the current minimum rate in the engineering sector is double that. Numsa’s demands are almost triple the current inflation rate of 5.3% and come against the backdrop of an economy in recession and an unemployment rate at a 14-year high.

The union is also demanding that the extension of the wage agreement must include parties such as National Employers Association of South Africa and Plastic Converters Association of South Africa, who fall under the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council.

“We have a mandate from our 29 000 workers in the sector to negotiate better wages and working conditions for members and their families. We will fight to block the greedy employers from implementing this poverty wage,” Numsa says.

Image credit: Copyright: kstudija / 123RF Stock Photo

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