By Tebogo Mhlanga
The National Union Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA) had gone on a dispute with the Metal and Engineering Industries over the extension of levy agreements on non-party members.
The National Employer’s Association of South Africa (NEASA) and the South African Engineers and Founders Association (SEIFSA) had refused to agree to the extension of the levy agreements to Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) by non-party members which had lapsed on May 2016.
The MEIBC will have to function without its 20% to 30% of its income from July as the employers had also refused to agree to the council’s budget which included 18% increase in levies for 2016/17 financial year.
However, the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA) had declared a dispute with the employers over the fate of the MEIBC in the metal and engineering sectors. The MEIBC had been a dispute over the future of the centralised collective bargaining.
In a statement NUMSA said “it is clear that these employers want to destroy collective bargaining throughout these sectors. They are emboldened by the recent court judgement obtained by the Free Market Foundation which spelled out how employers can deal with the extension of bargaining agreements who are not party to such agreements.”
The dispute came when the NEASA and SEIFSA employers refused to approve and ammend the extension of levy agreements to non-party members.
NUMSA believes that SEIFSA and NEASA are an excuse to give employers time to critically undermine the bargaining council as they demanded forensic auditing of the MEIBC. However, NUMSA reaffirmed that they are not opposing the forensic audit of the MEIBC, but insisting not to use it as an excuse to delay the implementation of measures to save the council.
“The implication of a collapsed bargaining council will be a devastating for workers particularly as employers will not collect retirement funds for workers and put the future of the Metal Industries Benefit Funds in jeopardy.” NUMSA said in a statement
NUMSA said the campaign to defend centralised collective bargaining will be the mother of all battles while seeking to resolve this dispute. They will embark on a rolling mass action to defend collective bargaining.
NUMSA further added that, “Numsa demanded that they implement what they had agree to at the earlier meeting – including reaching an agreement on effecting an increase in the bargaining levy, and setting up a sub-committee of the senior leadership of employers and unions to develop a turnaround strategy to resolve the financial challenges confronting the Meibc.”
The union, which holds the majority of labour seats in the council promised to challenge employers to the bitter end.
(edited by: Bekithemba Ndebele )