Union plans massive strike in South Africa’s auto industry – including gas stations

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The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says it is heading for a strike in the auto sector, which will affect 306,000 workers nationally.

Numsa said after two days of negotiations, it could not agree on a 12% overall pay increase with the Retail Motor Industries (RMI) and the Fuel Retail Association (FRA).

Numsa represents at least 90,000 employees in the industry, including employees at gas stations, parts manufacturers and car dealers.

The FRA made a three-year deal offer of 4% across the board for all tank personnel and 3% for cashiers. Numsa said it could not accept the offer. The FRA’s offers are made on the grounds that Numsa is dropping all other demands.

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Other requirements include:

  • To bring the overtime rate in line with Chapter 3 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
  • Alignment of the wage negotiations calendar.
  • Night shift and transport allowance for garage staff.
  • The introduction of a peace clause, which enables employees to raise matters in the workplace that are not covered by the collective labor agreement.
  • Social services such as medical assistance for garage workers.
  • Removing the discrimination clauses against Numsa member of the Health and Accident Fund.

According to money webMark Roberts, an industry coordinator for auto parts manufacturers, said the real challenge with wage negotiations is that the CPI is “just going up and up and up”.

It’s going to be really hard to go after the CPI, Roberts said.

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“We should try to establish a realistic point where we can settle. What is fundamental for us, as for the other major sectors, is to have a multi-year agreement,” he added.

Numsa said it would hold a council meeting in the coming weeks to mobilize and is waiting for a date from the CCMA to address the picket rules.

“We are at the mercy of the CCMA and employer. The ball is in their court; they have the power to stop the impending national strike in the auto sector if they put a meaningful offer on the table,” Numsa said.

Reggie Sibiya, chief executive officer of the FRA, said it would not comment on the matter as it is being forwarded to the CCMA.

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Speak with Business dayRMI’s chief negotiator, Jacque Viljoen, said the association gives priority to “labour stability and peace in the industry, and as a result takes the negotiation process extremely seriously”.

“Currently, a lot of time is being spent identifying key non-wage demands from unions, and once this is done, the focus will be on wage increases across the various subsectors of the industry,” Viljoen said.

The association hopes that a new agreement will be reached and published by the Ministry of Employment and Labor just after August 31.


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