Tensions mount in auto sector as wage battle looms | Fin24


Numsa is accusing employers of delaying talks and making a wage offer to provoke a strike in the sector.

  • Tensions are mounting in the vehicle sector amid accusations from Numsa that employers were delaying a wage offer to provoke a strike in the sector.
  • But the employers’ chief negotiator has denied this, blaming complexities and non-wage demands. 
  • The National Union of Metalworkers is demanding a 12% increase, warning that if employers delayed tabling an offer, the union would be forced to strike.
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Tensions are mounting in the motor industry amid accusations from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) that employers were delaying talks and not making a wage offer to provoke a strike in the sector.

But the Retail Motor Industry Organisation’s (RMI) chief negotiator Jacques Viljoen has denied this, saying that employers had not yet tabled a wage offer because it was still considering several non-wage demands from the unions.

Viljoen said the employers expect that the negotiations with unions will be wrapped up by the end of August, in time for when the 2019 three-year deal in the sector expires.

The RMI is the largest corporate party in the Motor Industry Bargaining Council (MIBCO), while Numsa represents at least 90 000 employees in the sector, which employs 306 000 employees.

Numsa has slammed employers for not tabling a wage offer since the negotiations started in March. Numsa is demanding a 12% increase across the board and warned that if an offer was not tabled soon, the union would be forced to strike.

READ | Numsa accuses employers in auto sector talks of provoking a strike

Viljoen said these negotiations were taking place in a very diverse industry comprising more than 20 000 employers and more than 300 000 employees across several sub-sectors.

“This reality makes for complex negotiations to ensure that concluded collective agreements not only provide to fair and equitable wage increase but also the sustainability of businesses trading in the industry. Needless to say, the complexity mentioned results in fairly time-consuming engagements between the trade unions and the employer bodies,” Viljoen said.

READ | Numsa wants a double-digit increase in auto wage talks – even if it means a strike

Viljoen said the slow progress in the negotiation process was not uncommon for the current stage negotiation process and no cause for unnecessary concern.

“The mediatory process is facilitated by a seasoned mediator, who aids the parties in finding common ground in their journey towards a mutually acceptable wage- and substantive agreement for the next three years,” Viljoen said.

He said the RMI was spending much time identifying core non-wage demands from the trade unions. After this, the focus will turn to wage increases across the various sub-sectors in the industry, he said. 

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