Talks continue to avert Numsa strike

Negotiations between Numsa and the engineering industry will continue today.

Negotiations between Numsa and the engineering industry will continue today. Picture: Zikhona Miso/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Negotiations between the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) and metal and engineering industry companies will continue today, but South Africa's Chamber of Commerce said it's concerned about the union's posturing.

Talks between employers and the union started at the beginning of last month, but by the time a dispute was declared last week, almost no progress was made in reaching a settlement.

It's understood employers want to cut the entry level salary of R7,500 in half for new employees and has not addressed the union's demand for a 15 percent wage hike.

Numsa said 170,000 of its members will down tools on 4 July if a settlement in the metal and engineering industries is not met.

Investment Solution's Chris Hart said the industry can't afford another strike, having just secured a settlement with automotive workers in October last year.

"If that is under risk again then it can be crippling to the motor industry."

Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce Neren Rau said they're concerned that a date for the strike has already been set despite talks continuing.

"We're entering the bargaining process with a strike in mind and it's not the spirit of collective bargaining."

Numsa's leadership was not immediately available to comment.

Meanwhile, the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) said it will consider asking all of its members that use sugar at their factories to join a strike by farmworkers in the sugar manufacturing and refining industry, following a break down in wage talks.

Fawu members at Huletts, Illovo and Tongaat downed tools last week.

The union demanded a wage hike of 11 percent while the companies offered eight percent.

Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola said, "We hope to get all our members who are part of the sugar industry to be part of the sympathy strike."