'Economic recovery can now begin'

Numsa on Monday accepted a three-year wage deal after a month-long strike.

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) march for better wages in Cape Town on 1 July 2013. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) says the economy can now start its recovery as employees head back to work following a month-long strike.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Monday announced it had accepted a deal with trade union Solidarity and Seifsa, which secured a 10 percent increase for its lowest paid members for the next three years.

The strike has been marred by violence and intimidation.

Seifsa CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba says, "We are happy about the fact that there is a deal that is valid for the next three years, that gives the industry some semblance of peace and stability. This industry needs that badly to lead our country."

Meanwhile, the National Employers' Association of South Africa (Neasa) says it will approach the courts to block the extension of the deal to its member companies, saying its demands have not been addressed.

Neasa says it will not be bullied by the Numsa into agreeing to the latest wage deal in the metal and engineering industry.

The employer body has rejected the wage agreement saying it is unaffordable and is warning it will send workers home if they return for duty.

Neasa's Gehard Papenfus says they'll fight the matter in court.

"What happened wasn't negotiations but was blackmail. Companies were brought to a standstill by violence and intimidation and they got a deal that will kill this industry. As small businesses we are saying no."