South African strike ends

13 September 2013

A three-week strike by 90,000 construction workers in South Africa has come to an end with a +12% pay deal being agreed between the South African National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC).

Negotiating for construction workers, the NUM had demanded an increase from the minimum monthly wage from ZAR 4,400 (US$ 440) to ZAR 5,500 (US$ 550), a +25% increase. Although lower than the +12% increase that has been agreed, the union has described it as a, ”Major victory.” The union had previously rejected +8% and +10% pay offers.

For its part, SAFCEC has said that any wage increases must be accompanied by an increase in productivity. In a statement a week ago, SAFCEC president Norman Milne wrote, “The industry is at a tipping point. Normally better wages equals better production. In our case productivity gains do not keep pace with wage increases and are actually declining. We are paying more for our employees to do less.”

The strike is reported to have halted work on a series of projects by major contractors including Aveng, Group Five, Murray & Roberts, Stocks & Stocks and WBHO.

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