By Mbali Sibiya
A looming strike in the metal and engineering industry is expected to have a major impact on various sectors. Insiders say failed wage talks could lead to the collapse of the industry. Unions rejected a 5.4 percent wage increase and are demanding 10 to 15 percent increases.
Industrial action in the troubled engineering and metal sector will further damage the industry. Last year 25,000 jobs were lost while 500 enterprises shut their doors. Trade union Solidarity said a strike could mean the end of the metal and engineering industry’s bargaining council.
“Should there be a strike there will not be shifts worked,” said Marius Croucamp from Solidarity. “There won’t be income and no levies for the bargaining council. This will not only be detrimental, this will lead to the closure of the bargaining council which will be catastrophic to the sector.”
Last month, Solidarity asked the Labour Court to place the bargaining council under administration in a bid to save it from bankruptcy. About 340,000 employees and 10,000 companies fall under the bargaining council. A collapsed bargaining council will directly impact workers.
“There will be no centralised collective bargaining which is essential for uniformity and stability in that sector there will also be no adjudicated dispute resolution mechanism,” explains Mohammed Chavoos, an employment and labour lawyer.
“That would increase the workloads of disputes and create backlogs. The CCMA would be burdened. Bargaining councils also play a social role in that they administer provident funds, pension funds, medical schemes, so there will be no administration of those funds.”
An offer is on the table for negotiations to be extended by 30 days. Meanwhile, reports indicated that employer organisations were negotiating directly with workers in a bid to avoid a strike.