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‘Landmark’ salary agreement reached in steel industry to end crippling strike

The national steel and engineering industry strike in October 2021 has helped push the Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index downwards. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

Employers in the steel industry had improved their salary increase offer last week from 4.4% to 6% for 2021 and were not willing to sweeten it further. 

The largest employer body in the steel and engineering industry said an agreement on salary increases has been reached with more than 100,000 workers, effectively ending a crippling three-week-long strike. 

Business Maverick understands that the steel and engineering industry strike is effectively over after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) accepted an inflation-beating salary increase offer of 6% from employers.

Employers in the steel industry improved their salary increase offer last week from 4.4% to 6% for 2021 and were not willing to sweeten it further.

This improved offer was tabled by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), the industry’s largest employer body which represents 18 organisations employing about 170,000 workers. 

Although Numsa, which represents about 100,000 workers in the steel industry, was steadfast on its 8% salary increase demand, it was starting to warm to the 6% offer to end the strike.

Seifsa said a “landmark” salary increase deal has been reached in the steel industry, the details of which will be shared at a press briefing today (Thursday) at 2pm. Numsa will announce its decision on the final salary increase offered by Seifsa during a press briefing on Thursday at 4pm. 

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim previously said its members are prepared to settle on Seifsa’s 6% salary increase offer. But the trade union would only do so if it was guaranteed that the percentage increase was reflected on the hourly rates that workers earned in the steel industry. 

The strike started on 5 October and has been painful for workers, employers, the beleaguered industry and South Africa’s broken economy. Workers affiliated with Numsa have lost about R100-million in salary payments since the nationwide industrial action started because employers have implemented a “no work, no pay” policy.

The broader industry has incurred more than R200-million in lost output because shop floors at factories across the country were abandoned by workers. DM/BM

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    • I’ve heard this whine so many times. Here’s mine. The Management at the top, earning much more than they need, will just have to make up the deficit in profit by reducing their inflated annual bonuses or even salaries. The workers are extremely important and need to be treated as such. They should somehow be able to share in the wealth that is being created by industry. There are ways of doing this in an equitable manner. The old capitalist trickle down argument doesn’t work. Something very drastic needs to be done to remedy the inequality in this country. Everyone has a right to their own opinions and I believe that debate is healthy. However I do believe that a socialist system (with modifications if you like) will go a long way to alleviating the pain of millions as opposed to allowing the millions to starve and the one percenters to lead their privileged lives.