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Non-striking workers trapped in factory

Around a dozen Numsa members have reportedly locked employees in a Vanderbijlpark factory.

FILE: Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim speaks to reporters after a meeting of the trade union’s central committee in Johannesburg, 18 August 2011. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa ( Numsa) members have apparently locked non-striking employees in factories in Vanderbijlpark.

About 200,000 union members in the metal and automotive sectors downed tools on Tuesday, demanding a 12 percent wage hike.

Employers, reportedly desperate to find a solution, put a 10 percent wage hike on the table but Numsa rejected the offer.

The strike has already been marred by violence and intimidation, with the latest incident in Vanderbijlpark involving around a dozen unions members.

An eyewitness says, "Numsa have now barricaded the factory and are not allowing any of the non-striking employees out unless a deal is signed."

"They [the non-striking workers] fear for their lives," she adds. "They have called the police and they're just very scared - they're just stuck in the factory and they can't come out."

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has meanwhile called on police to intervene and arrest those responsible for the intimidation.

Eyewitness News has been inundated with calls from frightened non-striking workers and factory bosses.

It's understood more than 100 factories on Gauteng's East Rand were forced to close their doors amid growing fears they would be targetted.

Sporadic incidents of intimidation and vandalism have been reported in Benoni as well as Booysens in southern Johannesburg.