Union requests urgent meeting over Eskom’s winter power rates
SOLIDARITY trade union wants an urgent meeting with the government on the impact winter power rates have on the steel and chrome industry.
The union said as part of its Save Our Steel Campaign it sent a letter to the government on Friday, requesting an urgent high level meeting to discuss the negative impact winter power rates had on the sector.
Marius Croucamp, Solidarity’s deputy general secretary for the metal and engineering industry, said companies closed plants and shut down smelters because of the higher power rates that applied in June, July and August.
Croucamp contended that a model which allowed for flexibility must be found to assist and support companies during the increased winter power tariff period. “Such a model should ensure that production is not halted and jobs are retained.”
He added that talks with players in the industry revealed that Eskom was not prepared to accommodate them as far as increased winter tariffs were concerned.
“It is precisely because of this premise that Solidarity wants to get industry players, government and Eskom around the table to find a solution to the problem.”
Meanwhile, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) said last week that the contraction in the metals and engineering sector will be the focus of the third annual South African Metals and Engineering Indaba in September.
The federation said according to the SA Reserve Bank’s Quarterly Bulletin of June 2017, manufacturing production contracted for the third successive quarter in the first quarter of this year, which was mainly because of weak domestic demand and low business confidence.
Presented by Seifsa in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation and the Department of Trade and Industry, the indaba is an opportunity for business executives, policymakers and trade union representatives to collaborate towards addressing the challenges facing the sector.
Speaking ahead of the indaba, Seifsa chief executive Kaizer Nyatsumba said in addition to tackling the challenges in the sector, the conference would also consider the steps necessary to reverse the contraction in the metals and engineering sector.
He said according to Stats SA, the metals and engineering sector had shrunk in each successive year since 2013.
“We need to urgently turn around that trend, because the steel and engineering sector is an important contributor to the GDP and job creation. This requires collaboration between government, labour and business.
“With unemployment currently at unacceptably high levels, South Africa needs a vibrant and competitive steel and engineering sector.”
Meanwhile, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said on Friday that it welcomed the support from the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) on the looming engineering strike.
Numsa said Saftu had called on all 24 unions, which represent more than 700 000 workers in the country to back Numsa in the upcoming strike.
“Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of Saftu is correct when he says that ‘the strike in engineering is a life and death struggle for all workers in South Africa.
“The employers in other sectors are looking to see if the engineering sector succeeds in implementing the slave wage of R20 per hour, so that they too, can implement poverty wages’,” said Numsa.
Numsa said it had not yet announced a decision to go on strike as it is in the process of mobilising its members. – firstname.lastname@example.org
Seifsa chief executive Kaizer Nyatsumba said steps are necessary to reverse the contraction. PHOTO: SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI