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Wage negotiations in the engineering sector have finally been concluded, with unions announcing that a three-year deal has been agreed to. The deal makes provision for a 7% wage increase in 2017, 6.75% in 2018 and 6.5% in 2019.

Engineering sector wage deal signedThe agreement marks the first in a decade where settlement was reached without resorting to industrial action. “The process was long and hard, and there were considerable challenges along the way, but we are hugely relieved that finally, we and our labour partners were able to reach an historic agreement on realistic wage adjustments for the next three years,” Kaizer Nyatsumba, CEO of the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), said.

Unions Solidarity and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) will sign the agreement this week, with the United Association of SA, Metal and Electrical Workers Union of SA and the South African Equity Workers Association having already signed.

“We are proud our militant approach to wage talks has borne fruit. We stopped employers from implementing the fake national minimum wage of R20 per hour and we also prevented them from downgrading varying basic conditions and eroding our hard won benefits,” Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim told the media.

Gordon Angus, Executive Director of the employers association South African Engineers and Founders Association (SAEFA) says that while the proposed wage hikes are much less than the unions originally demanded, they would still hurt the industry. “The net effect of increases being given on actuals over the years has been to increase real wages in the industry to levels which are now unaffordable to many companies, especially small-to-medium sized ones,” he told Reuters.

“The agreement has created hope, security and certainty for employees in the industry. The industry is currently under immense pressure, and the demand for steel products is declining,” says Marius Croucamp, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity.

“Parties had come into negotiations from vastly different starting positions. However, to the credit of the respective parties, we moved gradually over time to the realistic figures at which we eventually settled,” Nysatsumba said.

Image credit: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaizer-m-nyatsumba-mba-hull-cert-dir-iodsa-6583a631/?ppe=1

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