The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) will on Tuesday 24 May march to the ArcelorMittal offices in Vanderbijlpark to hand over a list of demands.
The demonstration comes off the back of some relief granted by the Labour Court, essentially dismissing ArcelorMittal’s application to interdict the national strike at all its plants.
“Our members have been on strike since the 11th of May to demand a 10% across the board wage increase,” explained Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.
Hlubi-Majola said the union was confident that ArcelorMittal had the capacity to increase workers’ wages, but the employer remains steadfast.
“The mediation that the CCMA had with us and the employer to try and resolve the strike failed on Friday 19 May, because we are dealing with an inflexible CEO in the form of Kobus Verster who would rather run to court than engage us meaningfully.”
The impasse means Numsa will intensify the strike at all ArcelorMittal plants nationally.
“We are calling on all workers to unite behind their demands in order to ensure a total shutdown of all production,” warns Hlubi-Majola.
The markets haven’t reacted well to the protest; ArcelorMittal’s share price has taken a knock since the strike began affecting the company’s bottom line.
“We, therefore, urge the management to be reasonable and put a meaningful offer on the table in order to resolve the strike,” said Hlubi-Majola.
The strike at ArcelorMittal is one of many that are currently underway in the country.
Sars staff also threatened to down tools this week, but the revenue collector said it will pay increases out of its savings funds.
Mineworkers at Sibanye Stillwater are also digging in their heels. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the company remain deadlocked, despite the employer offering some concessions this week.
Eskom workers are also demanding a 15% salary hike from the embattled power utility.
The recent extraordinary surge in food and fuel costs has prepared a tough battleground for employers and unions this year, both of whom are taking a hard line in wage negotiations.
The unions and their members are up against the rapidly rising inflation rate, while employers are citing difficult and vulnerable economic conditions.
Compiled by Narissa Subramoney