The metal and engineering sector’s strike is set to enter its third week after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s (Numsa) striking members rejected their employers’ latest wage offer. Numsa Secretary General, Irvin Jim, told a conference of journalists that “the employer must be held responsible for the continuing strike” and the employer’s “provocative demands” were responsible for the halt in negotiations.
“The employers have adopted a backward stance …based on super exploitation of the black working class,” began Jim. “As a union we are ready to end the strike with a one year agreement and a ten percent increase,” added Numsa’s secretary general.
Employers have offered a three year increase with a 10 percent increase this year, 9.5 percent in 2015 and a further 9 percent increase the following year. Numsa prefers an increase of 10 percent across all three years. The strike, which the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) estimates is costing the country R330 million a day, has been marred by alleged acts of violence which Numsa’s secretary general has blamed on a “third force”. Jim also acknowledged the strain that the strike was causing to both the workers and the metal industry, but vowed the strike will go on indefinitely until workers demands are met.
“Numsa always approaches strikes carefully because we know workers suffer twofold during strikes: first they suffer colonial inferior wages and then when they strike they lose even those colonial wages. Let us place it on record that the union has approached negotiations with integrity. We are fully aware of the state of the industry but we’re also aware of the lives of working class black workers,” concluded Jim.
Photography by Rofhiwa Maneta
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