Dispute declaration by NUMSA in 2021 wage talks and Webinar

South African Engineers and Founders Association

3 August 2021

Despite having engaged with SAEFA only once thus far, NUMSA have declared themselves to be in dispute with all industry employers, including SAEFA, NEASA, CEO and SEIFSA.  Towards the end of last month, we advised members that this was a distinct possibility, and gave the following clarity in terms of the process:

Good afternoon members.  There are rumours doing the rounds that strike action is planned to start from next week Wednesday (28th July).   Please take careful note that protected strike action is not possible in the next few, to several weeks at least.  In order for protected strike action to take place, the parties to a negotiation need to deadlock.  This hasn’t happened yet and as the next negotiating meeting between any of the parties to the MEIBC is next week Wednesday (between SEIFSA and the unions).  Once there is a deadlock, a party may declare a dispute against the others by filing the requisite forms with the MEIBC.  This may be done next week Wednesday, 28th July at the earliest.  From there, the MEIBC General Secretary, together with the President of the Council are required to call a Manco within 14 days, the purpose of which is to allow the parties to decide on how they want to resolve the dispute.  They can choose one of four options:

  1. to appoint a sub-committee to meet within a specified number of days, for the purposes of attempting to resolve the dispute or to recommend to the Management Committee a process by which the dispute can be resolved;
  2. referring the dispute to conciliation, provided that this shall be compulsory, in the case of a dispute involving a non-party to the Council;
  3. referring the dispute to arbitration;
  4.  instructing the Secretary to issue a certificate stating that the dispute remains unresolved.

Since the dispute will involve non-parties to the Council, option 2 needs to be chosen.  A date for the conciliation needs to be set and the parties need to attempt to resolve the dispute at said conciliation.  Only if they can’t resolve the dispute, or a period of 30 days has lapsed from the declaration of the dispute, will any party be able to provide 48 hours’ notice of intended strike action.  Reasonable accommodation of all of the above means that protected strike action is only probable towards the end of August at the earliest.

The Management Committee meeting mentioned in the first paragraph of the previous months’ post has been scheduled for 10 August 2021. 

Unfortunately, this means that the likelihood of strike action occuring in the industry has increased significantly.  SAEFA will be running a 2-hour webinar on strike action, where we will guide members on the legalities around industrial action, the options for employers and how to navigate through this incredibly concerning period.  To book, or for more information, please contact the office.