The National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA) is urging the National Union of Metal Workers (NUMSA) to abandon a decision to go on strike from July 1 and return to the negotiating table. On Friday, 26 June, NEASA responded positively to the trade union Solidarity’s request that constructive negotiations continue for at least a further 21 days and that any strike action be postponed for this period. Should NUMSA agree to this it will directly impact on their planned strike which will commence tomorrow, 1 July.
‘If NUMSA has any intention of resolving this dispute, if they have a desire to prevent the damage to business and avoid the economic tragedy their members will inevitable suffer during the industrial action, if the interests of South Africa are more important to them than pursuing ideological goals, they will grasp this opportunity and suspend the strike,’ says NEASA Chief Executive Gerhard Papenfus.
NEASA is confident that an amicable solution could be found between the various parties and that a lasting resolution could be reached to turn around the negative direction of the Industry.
‘The differences between us can be resolved. What we need is direct, open and robust debate in an attempt to better understand each other and engage in a process where solutions are sought. There are structural defects in this industry and the sooner employers and unions engage directly in joint solution finding processes, and remain engaged until solutions are indeed found, the better it will be for all; employers and workers and South Africa,’ says Papenfus.
NEASA maintains that NUMSA is too hasty in their decision to down tools from tomorrow.
‘A strike at this stage, when we haven’t even attempted to constructively address the critical issues, is premature and irresponsible. Agreements which are the result of strikes, where employers are muscled into deals which they cannot afford, will only bring about short term solutions. In the long run it will result in increased unemployment, increased poverty and increased inequality,’ Papenfus said.
Papenfus says strike action will only serve to exacerbate the problem and not contribute to mutually beneficial solutions.
‘We need economic growth and sustainable business. The current dispensation is a lose-lose dispensation. We need an environment in which all, employers and employees, can improve their standards of living. We will not achieve that through strike action, but through intensive direct engagement,’ he says.
Papenfus has reiterated that NEASA will remain open to debate and negotiations for as long as it takes.
‘We distance ourselves from employers who have served lock-out notices on trade unions, like Solidarity, who have made it clear that they do not want to strike. That is simply contra-productive,’ Papenfus said.
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