Hundreds of National Union of Metalworkers of SA members gathered in protest on Tuesday at the Mary Fritzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg, as part of the first day of their nationwide engineering sector shutdown over salary increases.
Dressed in red Numsa T-shirts and some in red overalls, while carrying sticks, the protesters were singing and chanting Struggle songs as they held placards written: “We demand 8% increase across the board,” “Down with 4%,” “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
Numsa national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the workers are demanding a 8% salary increase.
“This is the first day of a national strike we have called for in the engineering sector. The metals and engineering bargaining council is a council that represents over 9,000 companies with over 300,000 workers. Numsa represents over 155,000 of those workers.
“We are fed up with where we are with wage talks right now. Employers are not making a meaningful increase. We are demanding 8% across the board for the first year and for the second and third year we are demanding a CPI (consumer price index) increase of 2%,” said Hlubi-Majola.
“They are only offering 4.4% for the first year and CPI increase of 1% for the second year and 0.5% for the third year. Our members were angry when they received that proposal. They may as well might have given a 0% increase.
“The majority of workers in this sector are lucky when they get a minimum rate of R49 per hour. What is a 4.4% increase? That is not good enough. In the time of Covid-19 for someone who earns R20 an hour that is frustrating. They might as well have given them a 0% increase. The workers have decided to embark on a strike and stop production until the employers take us seriously. This is a total shutdown of the sector until our demands are met.”.
Hlubi-Majola said Numsa has been in negotiations with all employer associations in the metals and engineering sector since early June
“Despite our many discussions and negotiations that we have had, the engineering employers have not compromised. We compromised. We initially wanted a 15% salary increase and we moved to 8%. Their starting offer was 0% and now they are on 4%. They have not moved an inch. This is completely unacceptable,” she said.
The protesting workers are heading to the offices of the metals and engineering industries bargaining council on 42 Anderson Street in the Joburg CBD.
The nationwide strike is also taking place in in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, Belville in the Western Cape and Welkom in the Northern Cape.