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Numsa strike ends with R600m cost to economy, 'potential for job losses is high'

22 October 2021 10:44 AM
Tags:
NUMSA
Numsa strike
steel and metal industry

Refilwe Moloto speaks to Prof Miriam Altman, Director of Altman Advisory and Commissioner at the National Planning Commission.
  • The Numsa strike has cost the economy R600 million and R300 million in salary losses
  • Prof Miriam Altman says while Numsa is correct in driving for a living wage, the steel industry has taken a massive knock in recent years
  • 'The potential for job losses is high,' she says

Copyright: gyn9037 / 123rf

There has been a breakthrough in the three-week-long strike action stand-off between the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and industry employers.

On Thursday, Numsa announced it had decided to back down from its 8% wage increase demand and accepted 6% for three years from the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA).

Refilwe Moloto speaks to Prof Miriam Altman, Director of Altman Advisory and Commissioner at the National Planning Commission, about the cost to our embattled economy.

The economy has lost R600 million in steel and engineering sector output and R300 million in wages lost during the strike.

It is understandable that Numsa is driving towards what they call a living wage in a context of very high working poverty.

Prof Miriam Altman, Director - Altman Advisory and Commissioner at the National Planning Commission

It is the right driving force for most working people, but having said that, there is this idea that the steel and metals industry is doing so well - and yet it is not at all.

Prof Miriam Altman, Director - Altman Advisory and Commissioner at the National Planning Commission

She says the companies in the industry have had many years of deep losses, with rising energy costs, rising input costs, competition from China, and an overall weak economy.

I am not sure what they were after but the potential for job losses is very high.

Prof Miriam Altman, Director - Altman Advisory and Commissioner at the National Planning Commission

I don't know why they settled now, but they may have come to a point realising the company would be against the wall.

Prof Miriam Altman, Director - Altman Advisory and Commissioner at the National Planning Commission

The union should be fighting the good fight to get wages and conditions improved - that is what unions do - but the problem is we are in a terrible economy and an economy that has been tough for steel.

Prof Miriam Altman, Director - Altman Advisory and Commissioner at the National Planning Commission

The reality is demand for steel has been low and the industry has been struggling for a number of years. There is one year of profitability and everyone leaps on that, but you need to remember that is after many years of major losses.

Prof Miriam Altman, Director - Altman Advisory and Commissioner at the National Planning Commission

She believes there needs to be a lot more effort for parties to work together rather than divisiveness.

This kind of long-term strike action did not help the industry and I am not sure it helped the workers.

Prof Miriam Altman, Director - Altman Advisory and Commissioner at the National Planning Commission



22 October 2021 10:44 AM
Tags:
NUMSA
Numsa strike
steel and metal industry

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