Macsteel has denied unilaterally deciding to reduce the salaries of its employees by 20%. In a statement released on Friday, Macsteel said they respect the rights of their employees “and we continue to be in negotiations with them and with the unions.”

This followed a strike by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) at the steel supplier earlier this week. The union also accused the Macsteel of failing to consult the employees in their decision to reduce the salaries of employees by 20% with effect from this month.

The union says the company has cited the effects of the coronavirus.

Numsa Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the company has failed to make an application to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) so that workers can get help.

However, the steel supplier has denied this.

“Macsteel informed staff of the emergency measures that it had decided to implement in the efforts to safeguard the sustainability of the business. These measures included a 20% salary reduction for the months of May, June and July 2020,” reads the statement in part.

Macsteel Group CEO Mike Benfield said, “The process we have followed in implementing the 20% salary reduction has been transparent as we have consistently communicated each step of the process with our staff and entered into discussions around them.”

Benfield also said they have in fact applied for the UIF TERS.

“We have applied for the Covid-19 UIF TERS, our staff will be paid the UIF support amount. We expect that this will compensate the majority of staff fully for the 20% reduction.”

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