The conciliation process aimed at resolving the impasse between employers and NUMSA at this year’s wage and substantive negotiations, under the auspices of MIBCO, continued on 23 October 2019.
During the previous session of conciliation on 11 October 2019, the RMI and the other employer parties tabled a revised wage offer, the details of which were reported on at the time. NUMSA was requested then, as they were at the last session on 23 October 2019, to respond to this revised offer of the employer parties, however they have refused to do so and have insisted that they would settle for nothing less than the terms of the 2016 wage agreement, as well as substantial changes to short time provisions, the introduction of night shift and travel allowances, and an incease in overtime rates.
In view of NUMSA’s refusal to continue the negotiation process if their demands, as mentioned above, were not met, the RMI and the other employer parties were left with no other option but to register an objection to NUMSA proceeding with the finalisation of Picketing Rules, which is a legal prerequisite for it to commence with a legal/protected strike.
The legal requirements for NUMSA to proceed with a legal/protected strike was explained to members on 18 October 2019, but in short, this requires that NUMSA conduct a recorded and secret ballot of their 78,000 members across 22,000 businesses in the industry, in order to determine support for a strike. Only once such a ballot has been conducted can Picketing Rules, that regulate the conduct of striking employees, be finalised. NUMSA has failed to conduct the required ballot of their members, to date.
The RMI’s objection will now be subjected to thorough consideration by the Commissioner appointed by the CCMA, and in all likelihood, this will take several weeks, due to the fact that the rules of the CCMA are very specific on how matters of this nature ought to be resolved by the Commissioner appointed for this purpose.
In the meantime, the RMI has encouraged NUMSA to continue the negotiation process as the conclusion of a wage agreement for the next three years has become a matter of priority.
Whilst industrial action will always remain a hypothetical possibility, the RMI remains confident that the on-going negotiations process will produce a wage agreement between the RMI and the other employer parties on the one hand, and NUMSA on the other.
A new date for conciliation has not yet been determined, as the consideration of the RMI’s objection will take at least 10 days. however when the new date for the resumption of conciliation has been determined, we will advise members accordingly.
The RMI will continue to keep its valued members updated on developments, and would caution against distress about the slow pace of progress. We remain buoyant about the likelihood of a settlement between the parties in due course.