‘Unprecedented’ Numsa strike next week

Members in the engineering, communications and automotive sectors will go on strike on 1 July.

More than 220,000 workers affiliated to Numsa are preparing to strike next Tuesday. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa ( Numsa) on Thursday announced its 220,000 members will go on strike next week.

The country's largest union is demanding a 12 percent wage hike.

It confirmed members in the engineering, communications and automotive sectors will down tools on 1 July.

Numsa Deputy General Secretary Karl Cloete says an acceptable settlement has not been reached with bosses in the engineering and metals sectors.

Earlier this year, the union demanded a 15 percent salary increase.

But Numsa has now lowered demands to 12 percent.

"Numsa is finally ready to take to the streets and withdraw its labour at

an unprecedented level," Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim said at a

media briefing in Newtown, Johannesburg.

The National Employer's Association of SA (Neasa) says it's extremely disappointed with Numsa's decision to go on strike.

The association's Sya van der Walt-Potgieter says the decision shows the union isn't serious about growing the economy.

"They are [not worried about] South Africa's image as an international investor destination."

Economist Lungile Mondi says she expects the parties to reach common ground soon.

"I don't think it will last that long as all parties are very sophisticated. They are going on strike to show how powerful they are."

Economist Chris Hart agrees.

"It's unlikely to last that long, I'd be very surprised [if it did]."

The strike could have a major impact on the construction of Eskom's Medupi and Kusile power stations, which are already behind schedule.

Electricity shortages in part have been blamed for South Africa's sluggish economic growth.

The latest strike could also hit South Africa's poor GDP figures, which contracted 0,6 percent in the first quarter of 2014 - the first contraction since 2009.

The sluggish figures were in part blamed on the protracted wage strike in the platinum mining sector.

If South Africa experiences another contraction in the second quarter, the country will be in recession.