MEIBC settlement unaffordable - NEASA

Gerhard Papenfus says there is an urgent need for a lower entry grade for new employees


Following the announcement made earlier today by NUMSA and SEIFSA that they have reached a principle agreement which could mean an end to the current strike, the National Employers' Association of South Africa (NEASA) has announced that they will not be signing the agreement.

As the nation's largest employers' association in terms of the Labour Relations Act, representing more than 18 000 members in more than 80 industries, NEASA said that whilst they are prepared to discuss wage increases and other demands made by the striking workers, the employer's association would only be prepared to do so once their demand for a lower entry grade for new employees has been met.

"Businesses cannot afford the cost and the environment created by this proposed agreement and we therefore stand firm in our approach of creating a more flexible environment in the Industry," says NEASA CEO, Gerhard Papenfus. "In order to be able to create more work and employment opportunities, we must lower the entry grade for new employees. Our demand will not affect current employees, but it will create a more realistic environment which will create jobs for the thousands of unemployed South Africans who desperate to earn an income", Papenfus explains.

"The short sightedness of NUMSA works directly against the employees whom it claims to represent", says Papenfus. "Apart from excluding millions of South Africans from the main stream labour market and the possibility of finding a job in this Industry, their appalling behaviour during the last two week's strike action prevented thousands of workers who clearly indicated their desire to work, but who was prevented to do so through intimidation, victimization and violence".

NEASA also warned that striking employees who participated in the recent strike action will never be able to make up the losses suffered due to the "no work, no pay" principle, and predicted that large scale retrenchments which will take place following this strike. "Employers feel that they cannot expose themselves to this type of action and we have already started to see signs of them repositioning themselves", Papenfus said.

"Our competitors in India, China and even our neighbouring states, are the only ones who will benefit from the agreement, because they will in future be manufacturing the products which, though high costs, we won't be able to manufacture anymore. The loss of each and every job locally means that another job has been created for somebody elsewhere".

"It is our view that the agreement which is being proposed by the unions is not in the interest of employers in the Industry and, in fact, nobody. South Africa cannot afford this Industry. We will do everything possible to protect our members against the impact of this agreement", Papenfus concluded.

Statement issued by Gerhard Papenfus, CEO: NEASA, July 15 2011

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