Attempts by the parties to MIBCO yesterday, 29 August, to secure a new Main Agreement for the next three years have not been successful and at the end of the fifth session today, NUMSA declared a dispute with the three employer parties to the Council, namely the RMI, NEASA and the FRA. At the heart of the dispute are wage increases and the retention of the Peace Clause.
Jan Schoeman, Chief Operating Officer of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), confirmed that the RMI’s offer of 5% wage increases for each year for the following three years (i.e. 2019 – 2022), was rejected by NUMSA, who demanded a 10% increase in wages across the board. Schoeman noted that the RMI’s wage offer is informed by the consumer price index, which was recorded at 4% for the month of July 2019.
NUMSA is also insisting on the effective scrapping of the Peace Clause which, if agreed to, would mean that employees can strike despite any agreement reached between the trade unions and employers. “The retention of the Peace Clause in the current form, is a key to labour peace and the viability and sustainability of businesses in the Industry. It is therefore deemed to be a “non-negotiable” by the RMI,” says Schoeman.
In terms of the MIBCO Constitution, a dispute meeting between the parties must be held within 14 days of the dispute being delcared. This dispute meeting has been scheduled for 09 September 2019. If the dispute between the parties is not resolved at this meeting, mediation must be scheduled within 10 days of the dispute meeting.
Schoeman said he was concerned about rumours circulating that NUMSA members are about to embark on strike action. He stressed that there can be no lawful / protected strike before the dispute resolution procedure mentioned above, together with a secret strike ballot and an agreement to picketting rules, have been finalised.
He confirmed the parties will continue to explore the most appropriate terms for a new wage- and substantive agreement for the next three years at the dispute meeting on 09 September 2019. “Negotiations are therefore on-going at this stage. The parties will continue with bilateral engagements in the meantime, in an attempt to narrow the the substantive gap between what the employers consider an appropriate agreement, and what NUMSA has proposed,” concludes Schoeman.