South African Steelworkers Accept New Pay Deal to End Strike
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa agreed to a new three-year wage deal for steelworkers, bringing an end to a strike that’s dragged on since Oct. 5.
The lowest-paid workers will receive annual raises of 6% and higher earners 5% to 5.5% for the next three years, and the deal is backdated to July 1, Irvin Jim, the union’s general secretary, told reporters on Thursday. The union, which initially demanded 8%, backed down as employers docked striking workers’ wages and reached out to workers directly, Jim said.
“We will compromise and accept the current offer for the sole purpose of settling the current strike in the best interest of our members,” Jim said. “Numsa members have paid a heavy price during the strike, and it is in their interest that the union does everything possible to ensure that we resolve the strike as soon as possible, as each and every day on a strike is a sacrifice.”
The strike affected mining, construction, engineering and metallurgical businesses, and dealt a further blow to South Africa’s economy that shrank 6.4% last year due to stop-start shutdowns that were imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
It cost affected companies a total of 600 million rand ($41 million) in revenue and the striking workers lost 300 million rand in wages during the period, Lucio Trentini, chief executive officer of the Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of South Africa, said via text message.
Numsa, one of South Africa’s largest labor bodies, said its members would start reporting for work from Friday and operations should fully resume next week.
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