Potential for job losses in steel sector high after strike - NPC's Altman

Dr Miriam Altman, commissioner at the National Planning Commission, said that while there was this idea that the metal and steel industry was doing well but it did not seem to be the case.

Thousands of Numsa members marched from Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown to the offices of the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council in Marshalltown on 5 October 2021. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey Makhaza/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - With the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) ending its national strike, the potential for job losses is high.

This is the view of Dr Miriam Altman, commissioner at the National Planning Commission.

Numsa has confirmed that they have concluded an agreement with the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) and that the industry-wide strike in the metal and engineering sector has been called off.

Altmans said that while there was this idea that the metal and steel industry was doing well but it did not seem to be the case.

"Maybe some of the majors like ArcelorMittal had one good year but that's after many years of very deep losses, rising energy costs, rising input costs, competition from China, you know, just a weak economy. I'm not sure what they were after but the potential for job losses is very high."

She added that while unions should be fighting for workers in getting wages and conditions improved, she, however, stated that the country was in an economy that was particularly tough for steel.

The steel and engineering sector had lost R600 million in output and R300 million in wages.

"Infrastructure, in particular, has not progressed like it was meant to. That's something that I'm working on right now, is the National Infrastructure Plan, and hopefully, it will progress better going forward but the reality is that demand for steel has been low."

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