Metalworker employers meet Numsa for strike talks

The South African union leading a walkout by 220 000 metalworkers will resume talks with employers on Wednesday on ending the strike after mediation from the Labour Ministry.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) is meeting the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) at 9am, Numsa National Treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo said by mobile phone on Tuesday. The union hasn’t yet received a new offer from the employers group, he said.

Government officials met separately with Numsa and representatives of manufacturing and engineering groups on Tuesday, Mokgadi Pela, a spokesperson for the labour department, said by phone. “Talks are at a very advanced and sensitive stage,” he said. The parties are close to an agreement on wage increases while contentious issues include labour brokers, youth wage subsidies and housing allowances, he said.

The strike that began on July 1 is costing the South African manufacturing industry about R300-million ($28-million) per day, according to Seifsa. As many as 12 000 employers are affected, while supply and production has been hurt at carmakers including General Motors and BMW.

Numsa last week rejected an improved offer from Seifsa, the main employers’ group, to increase the salaries of lowest-paid workers by 10% this year. Numsa is demanding a 12% raise. South Africa’s annual inflation rate was 6.6% in May.

Police arrested 53 Numsa members on Tuesday following attacks on trucks and offices east of Johannesburg, according to Lungelo Dlamini, police spokesperson for Gauteng province, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located.

“They were arrested in relation to malicious damage of property and public violence,” Dlamini said by phone. “We are monitoring the strike with more vigilance.” – Bloomberg

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Rene Vollgraaff
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