The recent round of MEIBC wage negotiations shows promising progress as parties have narrowed down their demands to eight key issues, raising hopes for a potential agreement at the next meeting scheduled for 8 May, 2024. Here’s a breakdown of the current demands and status:

  1. Rolling Over Current Agreement Terms:

There’s general acceptance among parties for maintaining the current main agreement’s terms and conditions for the proposed new agreement period of three years. This entails no changes to the existing agreement during this period.

  1. Extension of New Agreement:

While most trade unions support extending the agreement to non-parties, many employers’ organisations oppose this. Regardless, the decision on extension would require a majority vote at the council, with the final say resting with the Minister of Labour.

  1. Housing Subsidy for Employees:

Unions show no major objections to this demand, but clarification is needed from the MEIBC fund trustees as they would be the source of this benefit.

  1. Industry Policy Forum:

Even though the establishment of an industry policy forum aimed at promoting industry sustainability and growth is critical, this has not yet materialised. SEIFSA explained that this has been unsuccessful to date, due to the failure of outsourced consultants to deliver on the mandate. There was consensus that this needs to be urgently addressed, and that the various forums that are required to do so, will comprise nominated party members.

  1. Job Creation Initiative:

A proposal for a lower entry wage scale to stimulate job creation was rejected by most parties, citing existing government initiatives and the belief that job creation concerns should not be part of wage negotiations.

  1. Special Dispensation on Salary Scales Phase-in:

Unions propose eliminating the provision for phasing in salary scales, while employers argue for its retention, especially for small and struggling businesses. A revised exemptions policy may offer a resolution.

  1. Revised Exemption Criteria:

Employers advocate for tailored exemptions criteria for SMMEs and struggling businesses, aligning with government initiatives to reduce compliance burdens. The (SA)UEO reiterated its demands in this regard, which was similarly tabled by other employers’ organisations. Our motivation stems from the necessity to be a much-needed voice for these smaller enterprises, aligning with government initiatives aimed at reducing compliance burdens and fostering a conducive business environment for growth. A draft proposal is to be prepared for acceptance by unions.

  1. Salary Increases and Actuals vs Minimums:

Parties agree that increases should be based on minimums, not actuals, although some unions seek member mandates on the issue. The final wage increases percentage hinges on the resolution of other key issues.


In conclusion, all parties involved aim to provide feedback to their members and reconvene on 8 May 2024, with a final mandate for settlement. (SA)UEO reaffirms its commitment to representing member interests and will continue efforts to ensure challenges are addressed in negotiations and industry policy forums. Your engagement and support are crucial as we work towards a fair and sustainable agreement for all stakeholders.