Liberated Metalworkers Union of South Africa (Limusa) said on Monday that it will proceed indefinitely with its strike at Agni Steel South Africa in Port Elizabeth due to protracted wage negotiations that started in 2016 with the company.
This comes as the protected industrial action entered a fourth day on Monday. The union was demanding R48 per hour at the time while the company was paying workers R24 per hour. The union has now reduced their salary demand to R40.37 per hour.
Agni Steel South Africa is a black-owned, Indian-backed, joint venture that runs a R400-million state-of-the-art, mini-steel mill, at the Coega industrial development zone (IDZ) near Port Elizabeth. The company employs about 270 people and of those, around 200 are Limusa members.
Limusa general secretary, Cedric Gina, in a statement accused Agni Steel of making several attempts to delay engagements or negotiations on the demands by raising frivolous jurisdiction points, but said all those attempts had failed.
“The company attempted to address the demands while we were engaging on the offer and making counter proposals the company went on to sign an agreement with a minority trade union (Numsa) which never submitted any demands or part of the dispute,” Gina said.
“The action by the company led to a deadlock and Limusa issued a strike notice to the company on 27 September 2017.”
Gina said the company had approached the Labour Court for an interim interdict on October 1 and the interim order was granted.
A week later, the matter was heard by the Labour Court and Limusa won the case and the interim order was discharged, meaning the Labour Court confirmed that the strike was protected.
“On December 8, the company and the union met in an attempt to resolve the dispute but the company failed to address the demand of R40.37 and backpay. That has resulted in collapse of negotiations and commencement of strike action,” Gina said.
“The strike is set to proceed indefinitely as workers are firm behind their demand of R40.37. If addressed by the employer the demand is set to bring workers at par with their colleagues in the Metal and Engineering Industry.”