Wage Agreement Ends Month Long Steel and Engineering Strike in South Africa
South Africa’s nationwide steel and engineering strike has finally come to an end after a four-week struggle saw many analysts fear for the future of some of the country’s key sectors.
The country’s biggest trade union, Numsa (The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa) has confirmed that its 220,000 striking members had now accepted a deal with employers consisting of a three-year fixed annual wage increase of 10 percent for the lowest paid employees.
The final deal is a far cry from the initial demands of Numsa, as well as the initial steadfast rebuttal from their advisories, but the country will now be relieved that no further economic damage will be caused by the halt in industry.
It has been estimated that as much as R300 million a day has been the cost to the engineering sector as a result of the strikes which began nearly a month ago and affected 12,000 companies from leading multinationals to SMEs.
South Africa’s industrial fragility stems back even further than the beginning of July, with the five month platinum belt strike immediately preceding the recent tussle, making it one of the most significant periods in the country’s recent economic history.
Of today’s more promising news, Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa)’s Chief Executive, Kaizer Nyatsumba hoped that "all parties would honour the letter and spirit of the agreement".
Numsa's General Secretary, Irvin Jim was more vocal, stating that the agreement was "a product of sweat and bitter struggles by our toiling workers for a living wage… and a four week long resolute battle to do away with colonial apartheid-era wage dispensation in the engineering and metals sector."
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.