Despite numerous efforts to appeal a court decision, the Minister of Employment of Labor has extended the Consolidated Main Agreement for the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) to non-parties within the industry. As a result, this “Main Agreement” has been binding on all employers since 17 October 2022. In addition, the two agreements regulating administrative and dispute levies, as well as the Main Agreement for the Plastics Industry, have also been extended. These agreements will be effective until 30 June 2024. In this article, we take a closer look at the latest MEIBC Consolidated Main Agreement (the “Main Agreement”) for the benefit of employers and their labour relations practitioners, as by law, the onus is on the employer to ensure compliance.

What are the key aspects covered by the agreement?

The Main Agreement establishes comprehensive terms for employment, including working conditions and compensation, while addressing the rights and responsibilities of both employees and employers in the industry in this regard. One of the most critical aspects of it is the determination of minimum wages. These minimum wages are structured in an extensive wage table, with no less than 38 different technical schedules that apply to the industry as well as various subsectors of the industry.

How did the agreement come about?

The Main Agreement transpired due to a collective bargaining process between mandated employers’ organisations and trade unions, who respectively represent the employers and employees in the industry. Click here to read more about the collective bargaining process in South Africa.

Who falls within the scope of application of this agreement?

All employees and employers who form part of:

  • The Iron, Steel, Engineering and Metallurgical Industry in South Africa (but not the Motor Industry) as well as the following subsectors of the industry:
    • Electrical Engineering Industry
    • Lift and Escalator Industry
    • Plastics Industry
  • The section of the industry in Transvaal and Natal concerned with the installation, repair and servicing of radios, refrigerators and domestic electrical appliances
  • The section of the industry in the magisterial districts of Durban, East London, Johannesburg, Pietersburg, Pinetown and the Cape, which are concerned with radio manufacture
  • All scheduled employees, as defined in clause 3 of the agreement

What must employers now do to comply with the latest main agreement?

The Main Agreement is an exhaustive, 320-page technical document that provides a vast range of terms for employment, with different sets of rights and responsibilities for employees and employers, and working conditions and minimum wages that vary from subsector to subsector according to various technical schedules. The South African United Employers’ Organisation (SA)UEO is scheduling expert legal training to help our organisers help their clients get to the heart of what they need to know as seamlessly as possible, so they can register with the council, comply with the collective agreements and adapt their contracts of employment, as well as their labour protocols and procedures accordingly. For more information on how to ensure compliance with the Main Agreement, we invite you to get in touch with your organiser. If you still need to become a member of (SA)UEO, feel free to contact us at to join our family today.