Pictures: SUNDAY TIMES
Pictures: SUNDAY TIMES

Trade union Solidarity says a possible strike in the metal and engineering industry could mean the end of the metal and engineering industries bargaining council (MEIBC).

Wage negotiations in the council came to a standstill on Thursday.

The union said that about three weeks ago, trade unions and employers reached deadlock with the MEIBC regarding wage negotiations in the industry.

"A strike will mean that the bargaining council won’t be able to cover its costs from levies paid by employers and employees, which is critical to fulfilling its functions," Marius Croucamp, deputy general secretary of metal and engineering industry matters at Solidarity said.

"A strike will result in a loss of income for the bargaining council, which could bring it to its knees. Projections indicate that such a strike may halve the MEIBC’s revenue for the month. This will shake the industry to its very core," Croucamp said.

He said Solidarity would like to continue with negotiations and therefore had requested a 30-day extension in the negotiation process.

"We urge trade unions and employers to stay committed to the collective bargaining process," Croucamp said.

According to Croucamp, some of the employers in the sector had offered a 5.3% increase, while employer organisations, the National Employers’ Association of SA and Border Industrial Employers’ Association withdrew their wage offers.

"Although Solidarity asked for a 10% increase, the trade union is determined to ensure the long-term success of the industry, and therefore it is willing to continue with the wage negotiations," Croucamp said.

In June, Solidarity said it would ask the labour court to place MEIBC under administration, in a bid to save it from bankruptcy. About 340,000 employees and 10,000 companies fall under the bargaining council.

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