New strike looms

Employers have declared a dispute with six trade unions following three rounds of unsuccessful talks.

FILE: Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa sing at Zoo Lake in Johannesburg ahead of their march to Nedlac offices, 19 March 2014. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Employers in the metal and engineering industries have declared a dispute with six trade unions following three rounds of unsuccessful wage talks.

The National Employers' Association of South Africa (Neasa) started talks with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), Solidarity and the United Association of South Africa (UASA) at the beginning of May.

But negotiations have fallen flat after the parties failed to reach a compromise agreement.

"The dispute is declared and if nothing happens, there will be a strike as of the beginning of July," Neasa's Gerhard Papenfus said.

"But throughout the month of June, there will be constant discussions and negotiations."

The companies have collectively offered a wage hike of 6,1 percent, while unions are asking for raises between 15 and 20 percent.

It's also understood employers want reform in the industry's wage structure, which could see the minimum cost to company of R7,300 cut in half for new employees.

At the same time, new talks aimed at ending the 18-week strike on the platinum belt began today.

Workers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) are demanding a R12,500 entry-level salary.