- To read the National Employers Association of South Africa's response to this article, click here. (0.27 MB)
- To read the Consolidated Employers' Organisation's response to Neasa's commentary, click here. (0.09 MB)
The Consolidated Employers’ Organisation (CEO) has secured a “landmark” victory for its members after lengthy discussions with other stakeholders at the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC), whereupon a new MEIBC main agreement has been agreed upon.
“The agreement was guided and mandated by a majority of our members who were in favour of the new main agreement,” CEO national collective bargaining coordinator Johann Preiss said in a statement on May 27.
The agreement recognised the fact that small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) in the metals and engineering industry had historically been left to struggle because of no small-employer dispensations in negotiations, which resulted in largely unaffordable settlements for small and growing businesses.
The new MEIBC main agreement allows SMMEs to structure in their wages in a multi-phased manner, gradually.
Preiss pointed out that those employer members who still could not afford the new small-employer dispensation or the phase-in dispensation were protected in the new main agreement through a new exemptions policy negotiated by CEO.
Those SMME members will, however, need to submit their exemption applications on dates specified in the agreement.
The agreement with the trade unions and other stakeholders enabled CEO members within the metal and engineering industry to fix their employees’ wages at flat rates of 60% of the 2019/20 industry wage rates without having to implement any increases until June 30, 2024.
Likewise, the agreement was not backdated from July 1, 2021, as other parties had to observe. Preiss said CEO was in a unique position that the agreement was applicable from the date of CEO’s signature on May 27.
The new main agreement provided for a set standard of working conditions assisting employers – such as an industry grading system, shift work, short time, working-in time arrangements and industry-standard templates, for example.
It was also aimed at providing labour peace, business stability and surety for employers in that trade unions could not negotiate at plant level with CEO members on any issues of wages, working conditions or benefits contained in the new main agreement.
The agreement was to be extended to nonparties, whereby signatories to the new main agreement could enjoy the benefits that the agreement held, and whereby nonsignatory parties would have to apply for an exemption to enjoy these benefits, already gained by CEO for its own members.