Numsa has acknowledged the weak state of the global and local economy as it negotiates for what it calls “a living wage and a better life for [its] members.”

“In South Africa we continue on the path of rapid deindustrialisation, with the greatest job losses in manufacturing sector.  Large numbers of Numsa members have lost their jobs.  In addition there has been a failure of government to demand localisation of intermediate products and a failure to pursue a protective tariff regime,” the union said in a statement.

Numsa believes that every South African should have the right to work and that they should earn a living wage and have a decent life. In the interest of metalworkers and the engineering sector, Numsa believes it has a struggle to engage both business and capital to do 3 core things: defend the current capability of our manufacturing sector; grow the manufacturing sector; and offer decent work and wages to those employed within the sector.

Numsa says it has witnessed the effects of government’s failure to implement policies which encourage industrialisation and a thriving manufacturing sector. It argues that over 20% of workers’ disposable income is spent on the cost of transport because of the persisting legacy of apartheid social engineering, and its settlement patterns. This coupled with petrol inflation and rising food prices, Numsa argues, puts heavy strain on workers.

According to the union, general engineering scheduled employees earn poverty wages of R5 300 per month while the CEOs in the industry earn millions. A 12% increase would increase the earnings of the lowest paid workers in the industry to just under R6 000.

“Numsa believes that we are being duped by the bosses by their constant claim that our demands are totally unaffordable and unreasonable. We demand that the bosses in the engineering sector disclose their financials so that we can better understand the financial position of the engineering employers,” the union said.