South Africa strike leaders set to resume wage talks
A strike by South Africa's largest labour union entered its second day Wednesday, ahead of an expected resumption of talks with employers to try to end the dispute.
“There are currently no negotiations going on, as a result the strike continues,” said Castro Ngobese, spokesman for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).
“Talks with the employer bodies will resume on Thursday evening,” he added.
More than 200,000 workers in the crucial metal and engineering sector downed tools on Tuesday, demanding “double-digit” wage increases.
The stoppages come a week after the end of a crippling five month strike over wages by platinum mineworkers at three top global producers.
NUMSA members on Wednesday held pickets outside companies, including the offices of state-owned power generator Eskom.
But the firm has obtained a court interdict preventing its workers from joining the strike, as they are deemed as providing essential services.
A strike by Eskom employees raises a threat of countrywide electricity blackouts, and a further delays in the construction of major power plants which are already behind schedule.
NUMSA has rejected the company’s wage offer of 5.6 percent wage increase.
In its list of demands, the union insisted it would strike until the lowest paid non-skilled workers in the engineering sector earned around 6,000 rand ($560) a month, a roughly 12 percent increase.
That is roughly double the rate of inflation, which is currently at 6.6 percent.
Apart from wage increases, the union also wants be able to negotiate wage increases every 12 months, rather than agree a three-year deal.
The strike is expected to hit more than 10,000 metals and engineering firms that account for about four percent of South African economic output, according to economists at Citigroup
Companies affected are multinationals BAE Systems and Bell Equipment.