13 October 2022
Macsteel confirms receipt of the notice of protest action by NUMSA regarding their claims that the company has allegedly unilaterally amended the terms and conditions of employment of its employees in respect of medical aid and accidental death benefits. These
claims are unfounded. This action is condemned and viewed as an effort to create unnecessary conflict.
There is a clear distinction between scheduled and non-scheduled employees in this regard. Non-scheduled employees are governed by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, whereas scheduled employees are governed by the MEIBC (Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council). The description of medical aid benefits on the payslips of non-scheduled employees changed in 2018 where it no longer reflected as a separate line
item, but was included in their remuneration. Non-scheduled employees’ remuneration was increased with a value equal to the Company’s medical aid contribution and the employee was not left worse off financially. All scheduled employees employed by the company as at the end of July 2018 continued to receive a 50% medical aid contribution as a separate line item on their payslips.
All new employees – non-scheduled and scheduled – employed after July 2018 entered into their contracts of employment with Macsteel on the basis that the medical aid is no longer compulsory. Should any new employee choose to join a medical aid, he or she will be liable for full medical aid premium.
A unilateral change to terms and conditions has consequently not occurred in respect of medical aid contributions.
Group personal accident
In 2019, Macsteel announced that the Group Personal Accident benefit (GPA), an additional duplicate death benefit that all employees enjoyed over and above the benefit that formed part of their Provident Fund structure, was to remain in place for existing employees but
that any new employees who would join the company, would not be entitled to the benefit. The cost of this insurance was too expensive but we were cognisant not to impact the terms of employment of all existing staff who continued to enjoy this benefit.
This is also applicable to employees who were re-employed following the retrenchment process in 2020. Staff that were retrenched, having received retrenchment benefits, on being re-employed post December 2020, became new employees and therefore no longer were eligible for this benefit as part of their new terms of employment.
Therefore, a unilateral change in terms of conditions of employment has, also, not occurred in respect of GPA cover.
Macsteel has requested NUMSA to withdraw these allegations immediately. Any strike action in this regard will be unprotected and illegal and Macsteel will be approaching the courts on Thursday 13 October to declare any strike action as illegal and unprotected.
LABOUR COURT RULES AGAINST NUMSA PROTEST ACTION AT MACSTEEL
Macsteel welcomes the Labour Court of South Africa’s decision to interdict NUMSA’s intended protest action as unprotected and unlawful.
NUMSA are interdicted and restrained from engaging in unprotected and unlawful industrial action including instigating, inciting, intimidation or harassment and interfering or blocking entry and exit of employees, customers and service providers at the business of Macsteel. NUMSA is required to show cause by 24 February 2023 at 10h00 why the order should not be made.
A unilateral change to terms and conditions of employment has not occurred in respect of medical aid contributions and the Group Personal Accident Benefit cover as alleged by NUMSA.
All employees will return to their work shifts on 14 October 2022.
Mike Benfield, CEO, Macsteel