Follow up: Protest action ends at ArcelorMittal, as agreement reached

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The protest action against ArcelorMittal South Africa has finally drawn to a conclusion, with the steel giant reaching a wage agreement with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Solidarity.

Prior to what can only be described as an eventful protest—beginning on 11 May 2022,  NUMSA stated that it would be embarking on a national strike and would continue to do so, until AMSA met its demands.

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However, ArcelorMittal South Africa managed to acquire an interim interdict, which stated that employees working at the blast furnaces, coke batteries and steel making in Vanderbijlpark and Newcastle were not permitted to embark on, or continue with a strike, pending the Labour Court granting judgement.

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Nevertheless, the interdict was dismissed and NUMSA announced its intentions to intensify strike action. However, due to alleged unruly behaviour, AMSA accused NUMSA of acts of violence and intimidation.

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Now, with the protest action and wage-dispute finally at end, ArcelorMittal South Africa’s Chief Executive Officer, Kobus Verster stated, “We are serious about working with our stakeholders to create mutually beneficial outcomes and the agreement that has been reached with the unions is testament to the commitment of all parties to move the business forward rather than getting stuck in an unfortunate wage dispute that does not serve anybody, especially our employees.”

As a result, the agreed-upon deal, which will be backdated to 1 April 2022, applies to all bargaining unit employees and is made up of a 6,5% increase on all remuneration elements. Plus a R5 000 once-off ex-gratia payment.

 “We will continue to build on the progress we have made in the past few years to revive and strengthen the business, which includes continuously improving our cost competitiveness in the market and maintaining stable and reliable operations,” added Verster.

Looking at the wage dispute now coming to end, NUMSA concluded by saying, “This agreement is a victory for all NUMSA members who made the ultimate sacrifice to fight for improved wages and conditions. They did not do this only for themselves, but also, for future generations of workers as well. To achieve an above-inflation increase during the COVID-19 pandemic is a major achievement and it would not have been possible without them.”

With handshakes and high fives being the end result, what are your thoughts on the story? 

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