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Steel Sector Strike: NEASA Issues Notice of Lock-Out

Steel Sector Strike: NEASA Issues Notice of Lock-Out.

The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) issued a notice of lock-out against the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA).

The notice of lock-out is in response to a notice of intention to commence strike action, on 5 October 2021, as received from NUMSA.

The industrial action emanates from a dispute regarding wages and other conditions of employment which NUMSA has declared against all employer parties to the MEIBC.

NEASA, by far the largest employer body in the Steel Industry, remains principally opposed to the centralised collective bargaining model of the MEIBC, where mainly big businesses, situated in South Africa’s economic hubs, and primarily NUMSA, negotiate wage deals which they then attempt to extend to SMMEs operating under entirely different economic and operational circumstances throughout the country.

NEASA is strongly opposed to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach pursued by both the competing employer federation, Seifsa, and the trade union, NUMSA, and therefore remains of the unwavering view that it is for every individual business to determine the levels of remuneration of its employees, based on its unique circumstances and financial ability.

NEASA believes that no social benefit, i.e. any form of a grant, can match the benefits of a wage, even a low-paid wage; that the only sustainable wage is a wage established on the basis of all the unique prevailing circumstances in every workplace; and that the unemployment that is caused by any  outside interference, has to be strongly opposed, especially in South Africa with an expanded unemployment rate of 44% and a youth unemployment rate of 64%, which is a root cause of the socio-economic instability and out-of-control crime rate in South Africa.

NUMSA’s allegation that NEASA is favouring the exploitation of workers, is malicious and false - and NUMSA knows this very well. In fact, the opposite is true: NEASA’s approach over the last decade, including many victories in numerous legal battles, has saved hundreds of businesses from going under, and also saved tens of thousands of jobs.

It is NEASA’s view that both Seifsa- and NUMSA’s persistence with its out-of-touch ‘centralised collective bargaining’ model, which resulted in the devastating de-industrialisation of South Africa’s Steel Industry, is both irresponsible and indicative of their inability to adapt to an approach which is required to address our desperate socio-economic and employment demands.

The Steel Industry has a desperate need for an entirely fresh collective bargaining model; one that accommodates many different agreements between the parties. Nothing, other than self-serving vested interests and the inability to adapt, stands in the way of immediately implementing a new approach. NUMSA’s persistence with the idea of a single generic agreement for the entire Steel Industry, concluded with a marginalised, easy target, Seifsa, stands in the way of revitalising the Industry.

 

 

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