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Dear Steel Industry employer

A few days ago, Seifsa issued an article in which they criticised NEASA following NEASA’s article, “The Betrayal of the Steel Industry”, on 21 June 2022.
One needs to be careful not to react too quickly to any article by Seifsa. They are discredited to such an extent in the Steel Industry, that it is sufficient to merely leave it to Industry functionaries to assess the value of their input.
However, we deemed it necessary to address a few issues mentioned in their article.

  • Seifsa refers to their agreement with the trade unions as the ‘main agreement’.

They refer to their settlement with the trade union as an “agreement widely known as the Main Agreement”. What matters here is not what it is widely known as, but what it factually is: it is not the main agreement in any shape or form. Referring to it as the “main agreement” is a lie. Period.

  • Seifsa boasts about the fact that their affiliate organisations, bar one organisation, are the only parties which are signatories to their settlement agreement:

Now is that surprising? How can anyone in his right mind sign an agreement where an entry-level employee, with no skills and no experience, is paid R52,52 per hour, approximately 40% more expensive than the second most expensive bargaining council agreement? And that does not include a 40% on-cost.
For any organisation, truly representing the interests of business, this is impossible to meet. The trade unions will always sign an agreement with the weakest link (in this case Seifsa), the organisation responsible for the unparalleled de-industrialisation of the Steel Industry.

  • Seifsa boasts of their “creative thinking” and their ability to “craft unique and unparalleled deals not seen anywhere in South Africa”: 

They are spot-on; their ability to negotiate the highest wages, which caused a devastating level of de-industrialisation and hardship in the industry, is in fact ‘unparalleled’.
It is also ‘creative’ and ‘unique’ in the sense that the signatories to this agreement can opt out of the agreement, by means of an exemption, simultaneously attempting to extend the agreement to non-parties; an agreement which their own members do not want or cannot comply with. What an outrageous arrangement; in fact, very cunning.

  • They claim that NEASA’s lack of imagination and foresight are the reasons for not being able to come up with a better deal. 

Yes, we cannot match them, but not for a lack of imagination or foresight; it’s rather a case of integrity and resolve. We are not sell-outs; we are truly representing our constituency; and we respect their desire and ability to conduct their affairs, not on the basis of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model, as per the Seifsa-trade union business-hostile model, but on the basis of practical realities each employer has to determine for themself.

  • While admitting their high wages as a disadvantage, they claim that certainty, stability, and the peace that is guaranteed, as the great advantages: 

What advantage?

  1. do the strikes during each and every season of negotiation, constitute “guaranteed peace”?
  2. do de-industrialisation, business closures and unemployment constitute “stability”?

does the fact that you are bound to an unaffordable wage agreement, with your only hope to convince an exemption committee that you are in financial ruin, constitute “certainty”? 

The fact remains, it does not matter how you wish to colour this agreement, it is nothing but ‘fool’s gold’ which holds no benefit for employers.

Gerhard Papenfus
Chief Executive

For more information:
NEASA Media Department