Labour Dept might extend Numsa/Seifsa wage deal

It’s unclear whether a deal between Seifsa & Numsa will be extended to companies who haven't signed it.

FILE: It’s unclear whether Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant will extend a wage deal between Seifsa & Numsa to companies who haven't signed it. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - The Labour Department says it can't prejudge whether Minister Mildred Oliphant will extend a wage deal between the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) to companies who haven't signed the deal.

On Monday the Labour Court rejected a bid by the National Employers' Association of South Africa (Neasa) to stop Oliphant from extending the deal to its members.

Acting Deputy Director-General Thembinkosi Mkalipi says he is aware of the problems that Neasa is raising in this argument.

"Whether there will be job losses or no job losses, give us the space to consider all those issues."

While Neasa CEO Gerhard Papenfus says his members simply cannot afford the wages agreed to in this deal.

"The industry cannot afford these kinds of increases, where there's simply no flexibility. We will continue losing jobs, we're not competitive on the world market and the only people that this benefits is macro business."

Seifsa now has to ask the minister to actually extend the deal.

Over 200,000 Numsa-affiliated workers downed tools at steel and engineering companies across the country for a 10 percent wage hike on 1 July, halting production at automakers including General Motors and hitting work at new power plants.

The union and other employers in the metal and engineering sector brokered a deal on 28 July, ending the almost four-week long strike.