Numsa 'unfazed' by Seifsa's latest move

Seifsa says it has no plans to make a new wage offer because it has exhausted its mandate.

Employees affiliated to Numsa are demanding a 10 percent increase for the next three years. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says it's unfazed by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa)'s decision to withdraw its latest wage offer.

Seifsa on Tuesday said it had withdrawn its final wage offer and had no plans to make a new wage offer to the union because it had exhausted its mandate.

Numsa rejected the conditional offer on Sunday, which included a 10 percent increase this year, 9,5 percent in 2015 and a further nine percent in 2016.

Employees affiliated to the 220,000-strong union are demanding a 10 percent increase for the next three years, revised down from the original 15 percent wage demand.

The mass action, which has been marred by violence and intimidation, has entered its third week.

The strike has hit the operations of automobile makers as well as manufacturing and construction businesses

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim says the strike will continue until workers' demands are met.

"They have a very chaotic, clumsy fellow who has just been appointed. He knows nothing about negotiations and if employers are going to allow a guy with a lot of hot air like Kaizer Nyatsumba to continue speaking on their behalf, they are doing so at their own peril."

Seifsa's Ollie Madlala, says there are no immediate plans to meet with Numsa for further negotiations.

"We made it very clear that we have exhausted our mandate. The final offer made last week, which was intended to end the strike and see employees back at work this week, failed to accomplish its goal and has since been withdrawn."

The strike has damaged wider investor sentiment in Africa's most advanced economy, which is teetering on the brink of recession after a first-quarter contraction caused in part by the five-month strike in the platinum sector.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut South Africa's credit rating last month while Fitch put it on negative watch, both citing poor growth prospects mainly because of strikes.

CAR MANUFACTURERS SUSPEND OPERATIONS

Ford has suspended production at one of its South African plants and Toyota plans to follow suit.

Ford spokeswoman Alicia Chetty said: "Production at our Silverton assembly plant has been temporarily suspended due to the strike."

She said only the company's Pretoria plant was affected and its other plant in Port Elizabeth was operating normally.

Toyota said it would halt some production from yesterday because of supply chain problems related to the stoppage.

"Toyota will close two production lines from Tuesday at our Durban plant," spokeswoman Mary Willemse said.

The manufacturing strike also forced General Motors to close its assembly plant in the southern city of Port Elizabeth over a week ago, despite efforts by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant to mediate between the union and employees.

"CRITICAL"

Mercedes Benz said supply lines to its assembly factory were reaching "critical" stress levels and an industry body warned more car-makers could be forced to halt production.

"Things are beyond dire. We have exhausted stockpiles we managed to build up in the months leading up to this strike and I expect more companies to halt production should the strike continue," Ken Manners, vice president of National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers.

Production at BMW,VW and Nissan was normal, although company officials said on Monday they were monitoring the situation closely.

Those affected include construction companies Murray & Roberts and Aveng Ltd which are working on the construction of two major power plants for state power utility Eskom.