Main Agreement Wage Negotiations

South African Engineers’ and Founders’ Association

19 May 2021

We have received several emails and telephone calls regarding an announcement made by SEIFSA that Main Agreement negotiations are set to begin in June.  As previously explained, SAEFA has been sitting at the negotiating table (together with 90% of the employers in the industry) since SEIFSA and NUMSA broke away into bilateral negotiations in 2017.  When they did that, they threatened to extend their agreement on the rest of the industry.  SAEFA, at the time, warned SEIFSA and the unions that they lacked the representivity levels required to legally extend their agreement and because of that, the unions must engage with us to secure an agreement conducive to business growth.  Needless to say, SEIFSA and the unions ignored our warning and committed to one another to extend the agreement to the detriment of businesses in the industry.  As predicted, however, they were unable to meet that commitment, as they lack the required representivity levels. 

As a consequence of the above, we continuously (each year since 2017) restated our position (latest attached) and each year, the unions met with us under the auspices of the MEIBC and rejected our position, choosing instead to not have any agreement apply to 90% of the businesses in the industry.  This has left SAEFA members in a position to be able to implement what they needed to survive, such as our New Entrant Wage Structure, where the minimum rates of pay start at R30 per hour (attached), all whilst protecting our members against approaches to bargain at plant level in 100% of the disputes declared.  Solidarity trade unions have realised that SEIFSA and the unions lack the required membership levels to legally extend an agreement, and so have engaged with us in the latter half of last year and the early part of this year, with a view to secure an agreement on terms and conditions of employment for our members.  SAEFA has instructed the MEIBC to schedule the next round of wage negotiations to be facilitated by Senior Commissioner Shamain Dadabhai, who is facilitating the ongoing talks.  We will keep members updated as progress is made.