South Africa’s largest trade union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, says it has signed an agreement with an automobile group on wage increases for workers that will total 22.5% over three years.
The workers will receive an 8.5% increase in the first year, backdated to July 1, 2022, and will get a further 7% — or inflation-linked rise, if that is larger — in the second and third years, Irvin Jim, general secretary of the union, said in a tweet on Friday.
“The union managed to secure 22.5% in the post-Covid-19 era, and against the poor economic outlook,” Jim said in a Numsa statement posted on his Twitter page.
The agreement between the union and the Automobile Manufacturers Association is binding for all parties and is valid until June 2025, according to the statement.
The deal comes amidst a devastating Transnet strike which is progressively slowing the flow of goods in and out of South Africa.
The industrial action at Transnet that started on 6 October has severely reduced staff at key ports that export iron ore and coal from South African mines.
Shipments of agricultural goods are also at risk, with fruit farmers raising concerns about the limited shelf life of their products.
The government said it was “extremely concerned” about the negative impact the strike was having on the economy and called for a speedy resolution to the impasse.
“Our country cannot afford further job losses in other sectors of the economy and the interruption of imports and exports,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
It urged Transnet and the unions “to adopt an approach which balances the rights of workers, who are affected by rising prices, against the long-term stability and growth of Transnet and the economy as a whole.”