Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
15 Oct 2021
7:47 am

Ongoing Numsa strike could derail SA’s economic recovery plan

Cheryl Kahla

Numsa initially demanded an 8% increase across the board for the lowest-paid workers.

Numsa workers marched from the Mary Fitzgerald Square to the Metals Engineering Industries Bargaining Council office in Marshalltown on 6 October 2021. Picture for illustration: Masego Mafata

The ongoing National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) strike now spans five provinces and threatens to derail SA’s economic recovery plan.

The steelworker strike – initially set to be a week-long walkout – is said to have cost the steel industry roughly R500 million, and has disrupted the supply chain to major firms.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union was receiving responses from regions on their proposal.

However, until an agreement is reached, Numsa pickets are continuing. 

Numsa strike update

Numsa and all employer associations in the engineering sector – including National Employers’ Association of SA (Neasa), the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa), the SA Engineers and Founders Association (SAEFA) and the Consolidated Employers Organisation (CEO) – are still at an impasse.

The sector employs at least 430,000 workers, but experts say the strike could likely lead to job cuts, further hammering the embattled industry.

After days of wage negotiations, Numsa received a revised offer from Seifsa.

Wage demands

Numsa initially demanded an 8% increase across the board for the first year and a CPI + 2% improvement factor for the second and third years. 

Seifsa offered 6% for the lowest-paid workers and 5% for the highest-paid workers.

Furthermore, Neasa remains strongly opposed to the approach pursued by competing employer federations, Seifsa and Numsa.

ALSO READ: Numsa considering new wage offer from engineering employer body

Previous protests

On Monday, Numsa members gathered outside Spot On Dry Cleaners & Launderers in Johannesburg, due to the company’s refusal to grant the union organisational rights. 

Spot On Dry Cleaners & Launderers is a fourth-generation family-run organisation. The company provides dry cleaning and cleaning services to the public and private sectors.

On Wednesday, Numsa workers picketed at SA Steel Mills’ premises in Meyerton, Vereeniging. The union said the company was “undermining collective bargaining by using scab labour”. 

Members demonstrated peacefully outside the company’s gates from 10 am “to highlight the ongoing engineering strike and the demands which workers are making.” 

Additional reporting by Narissa Subramoney