Workers at South African Breweries (SAB) plants across the country embarked on a strike on Monday, the Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) said.
"Our members started striking today [Monday] in the inland plants of SAB," said general secretary Katishi Masemola.
"Those in facilities on the coastal areas … will be joining the strike tomorrow [Tuesday]. By tomorrow we know that 2 200, or so, workers will be on strike out of 3 000."
He said the balance of workers who were not union members would join the strike because they agreed with the union's demands.
Fawu wanted a 9.5% wage increase. Masemola said SAB was offering an increase of 5.5% "officially".
SAB said in a statement it had offered a 7% increase.
Managing director Mauricio Leyva said the company would retain its offer despite the strike.
"We have encouraged Fawu to conduct a strike ballot and are willing to help them do so," he said.
"We are worried that without a ballot to assess support for the strike, members may resort to intimidation and even violence to get employees to join the strike."
The company had a contingency plan in place to minimise disruptions to operations and customers.
Leyva said the 7% increase was "highly competitive" and above the inflation rate for the year.
"SAB is one of the highest paying employers in South Africa across all sectors, and one of the highest in the brewing industry worldwide," he said. – Sapa