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An ArcelorMittal plant. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
An ArcelorMittal plant. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

ArcelorMittal SA’s share price was down 5.97% at 3pm on Thursday on the JSE on the second day of a pay strike as workers demonstrated at its factories.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) began a strike at Africa’s biggest steel company on Wednesday, after pay talks broke down last week.

The labour court ordered on Wednesday the exclusion of workers at company steel plants, blast furnaces and coke batteries from a jobs boycott  after ArcelorMittal argued these are essential services barred by law from striking, Numsa said.

Judge Dephney Mahosi of the labour court “interdicted the strike temporarily but only for workers in the blast furnaces, coke batteries and the steel plant, until a final judgment has been made”, Numsa said in a statement.

The union wants a 10% pay rise, a housing allowance and payment of 80% of medical insurance costs, against the company’s offer of a 7% pay rise.

ArcelorMittal was not available to comment.

A Numsa spokesperson said she could not establish immediately how many of union members worked in departments affected by the court order, but Numsa was the biggest union at ArcelorMittal, with about half of its permanent employees affiliated to it.

The company, majority owned by Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, had 7,133 permanent workers at the end of 2021, according to its latest annual report.

Scores of striking workers picketed on Thursday outside ArcelorMittal’s Vereeniging plant, about 100km south of Johannesburg, chanting protest songs, burning tyres and blocking roads with concrete blocks and debris as police kept a close watch.

“We want a 10% salary increase, that’s why we are standing outside,” crane driver Marake Mokoena told Reuters.

“This is because [the price of] everything is increasing, petrol, food and everything, but the company doesn’t want to give us that percentage, so we will fight until we get that 10% increase.”

Reuters

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