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Intimidation, vandalism at Numsa strike

Clashes broke out when striking workers tried to storm Seifsa's offices in Johannesburg.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members during a wage strike action in Johannesburg on 1 July 2014. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Day one of the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa) strike was largely characterised by intimidation and vandalism.

Union members in the Johannesburg CBD tried to force their way into the offices of the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa).

Over 200,000 Numsa affiliated workers are seeking a 12 percent wage hike across the board, a R1,000 housing allowance increase and are also demanding the scrapping of labour brokers.

A scuffle broke out between Numsa members and police when a large crowd tried to forcibly enter the employer body's offices.

The tussle led to a stampede and police battled to handle the situation.

Video: Numsa strike.

Numsa members are yet to deliver their memorandum of demands to Seifsa.

More than 5,000 Numsa members blocked off Anderson Street, rendering the city centre ungovernable.

Striking workers also vandalised property in the area.

IMPACT TO THE ECONOMY

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene expressed his concerns, warning the strike could have serious consequences for the country's ailing economy.

He raised his concerns at a South African Revenue Services (Sars) briefing outlining government's plans for the new tax season.

The minister said strikes curtail tax collection due to ripple effects on tax payers in other sectors.

He said it's going to take a significant effort to repair South Africa's weaker economy following the recent platinum strike.

Nene argued the crippling effects of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)'s mining strike largely overshadowed growth attempts in other sectors.

The finance minister said he hoped for a quick resolution to the strike as the country prepared to stimulate economic growth.

'MARIKANA SEASON 2'

Numsa demonstrators in Cape Town are comparing their labour situation to the Marikana demonstrations on the platinum belt.

Thousands of Numsa members gathered in the CBD on Tuesday.

Union members sang and held up placards which read, "Marikana season two" and "another Marikana".

Workers said they are fighting for a decent living wages.

Numsa regional secretary Vuyo Lufele said, "[The miners] were striking for the improvement of wages, benefits and better living conditions. The same thing is happening here."

More than 5,000 demonstrators are expected to support the strike in Cape Town.

All pictures by EWN's Sebabatso Mosamo and Aletta Gardner.

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