NUM won't back down with strike

90,000 construction workers have downed tools and are demanding a 13% wage increase.

A construction worker. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says it will not back down on a strike in the construction sector until workers' demands are met.

"We are on strike until such time that the employers meet our demands. We engaged with the employers over the weekend and will continue to engage with them until we find a resolution," said the NUM's Lesiba Seshoka.

The union announced last Thursday that at least 90,000 construction workers would down tools this week, demanding a 13 percent wage increase. The employer is offering seven.

Talks between the NUM and construction companies deadlocked after the union asked for a 15 percent wage hike and employers offered nine percent.

The union's General Secretary Frans Baleni said they've been part of fruitless talks for the past three months.

The union claims it's also protesting against 15 construction companies found guilty by the Competition Commission Tribunal of bid-rigging and anti-competitive behaviour involving projects worth R47 billion in the run-up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Seshoka said union members want employers to share the profits.

"The companies that the strike action is going to be against are the companies that have stolen so much money from us through collusion. Clearly, we want them to share with the poor workers in the industry."

The NUM has also said it won't not tolerate any violence by its members after seven people were wounded in a fight at a Murray & Roberts construction site in Sandton on Monday.