Business: Solidarity Dispute with Columbus Stainless Over Wages
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However, the company is now offering a wage increase of only 3% as from 1 July this year, as well as an additional 2% increase in December this year. In addition, the company will place a moratorium on retrenchments until December this year.
Earlier this year Columbus Stainless announced that it planned on retrenching nearly 10%, or 160, of its workers. Employees were given the option of taking voluntary severance packages and nearly 130 employees took this option. The remaining more or less 30 employees were not, however, retrenched and management indicated that the process would eventually end through the natural attrition of personnel. In addition, the company announced in February that significant restrictions had already been placed on the number of contract and temporary employees.
According to Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans, Solidarity is not at all in favour of the company’s suggested changes to the wage increase. “The company substantially reduced its staff earlier this year and, as a result, employees have already had to pay the penalty for the company’s efforts to cut costs. The wage agreement was concluded last year already, and it is only fair that the agreement be honoured,” Kleynhans said.
The dispute has now been referred to the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) for mediation. There are currently nearly 1 600 employees at Columbus Stainless in Middelburg.
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