Seifsa serves mass lockout notice

The move comes after Numsa announced its 200,000 members would strike from 1 July.

Seifsa has served notice of a lockout at all 23 premises of its member companies. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation (Seifsa) on Friday said it served notices of a lockout at all 23 premises of its member companies.

This means the industry itself has brought operations to a halt after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said yesterday its 220,000 members would embark on a 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.

The 'no work, no pay' principle will apply.

Seifsa hopes the lockout will put extra pressure on the union to accept the employers' latest wage offer.

Meanwhile, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has called on Numsa to put the economy first by delaying its planned strike.

The mass action is expected to cripple the production of iron and steel, manufacturing and the automotive sectors.

Economists warn it could push South Africa into recession.

Sacci's Pietman Roos says Numsa should consider the interests of the country.

"We understand that Numsa's members and leadership do have valid concerns, but the context is an economy that has been given a severe blow and the prospect of further credit downgrades will hurt every single person in this economy."

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 officially be in recession.