As wage talks in the automotive sector get under way, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Thursday opening discussions with employers had already collapsed.
Numsa said this was due to a refusal by employers’ organisations to accept a precondition that workers should be back paid should negotiations be prolonged.
Workers are ordinarily back paid to a date a new agreement is negotiated to have come into effect, regardless of how long negotiations drag on.
Numsa said it was concerned that workers would be left in the lurch if no agreement was reached by the time the existing wage deal in the auto sector lapsed at the end of the month.
The union and employers failed to agree on the inclusion of the back pay as a principle, with Numsa saying the bosses wanted it tabled as a demand instead.
The metalworkers’ union said the decision by employers to depart from normal practice would have consequences for 16,000 workers employed in the sector.
In 2013, Numsa waged a lengthy strike after failing to agree on a wage settlement with employers, costing the economy millions of rands. The auto sector accounts for 6.9% of the country’s GDP.