Union plans massive motor industry strike in South Africa – including petrol stations

 ·5 Aug 2022

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says it is headed for a strike in the motor sector, which is set to affect 306,000 workers nationally.

Numsa said that it was unable to reach an agreement on a 12% across-the-board wage increase with the Retail Motor Industries (RMI) and the Fuel Retail Association (FRA) after two days of negotiations.

Numsa represents at least 90,000 employees in the sector, including workers at petrol stations, component manufacturing companies, and car dealerships.

The FRA made a three-year agreement offer of 4% across the board for all forecourt attendants alongside 3% for cashiers. Numsa said that it could not accept the offer made. The FRA’s offers were made on the ground that Numsa drops all other demands.

Other demands include:

  • For the overtime rate to be 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 workers.
  • The introduction of a peace clause, enabling workers to raise issues in the workplace that are not covered by the collective agreement.
  • Social benefits such as medical aid for garage workers.
  • Scrapping the discrimination clauses against Numsa member of the Sick and Accident Fund.

According to Moneyweb, Mark Roberts, a sector coordinator for automotive component manufacturers, said that the real challenge regarding the wage negotiations is that CPI is “just going up and up and up”.

It becomes really difficult to start chasing the CPI, said Roberts.

“We have to try to fix a realistic point at which to settle. What is fundamental to us, as it is for the other big sectors, is to get a multi-year agreement,” he added.

Numsa said it would be organising a council meeting in the coming weeks to mobilise and is awaiting a date from the CCMA to deal with picketing rules.

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

The FRA’s chief executive officer Reggie Sibiya said that it would not comment on the matter as it is being forwarded to the CCMA.

Speaking with BusinessDay, the RMI chief negotiator Jacque Viljoen said that the association prioritises “labour stability and industry peace, and as a consequence, takes the negotiation process extremely seriously”.

“At present, much time is spent on identifying core non-wage demands from the trade unions, and once this has been dealt with, the focus will turn to wage increases across the various subsectors in the industry,” said Viljoen.

The association hopes that a new agreement is met and published by the Department of Employment and Labour just after 31 August.

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