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Numsa strike: Wage negotiations fail

Both Numsa and Neasa failed to reach an agreement on proposed cuts to entry level wages.

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) march for better wages in Cape Town on 1 July 2013. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Talks between the National Employers Association of South Africa (Neasa) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), aimed at ending a wage strike, have collapsed after the two parties failed to reach consensus on proposed cuts to entry level wages.

Neasa and Numsa met over the weekend, after unsuccessful talks between the union and majority employer body, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa), on behalf of more than 200,000 workers.

It's understood Seifsa has raised its offer to 10 percent to meet Numsa's demand for a 15 percent increase but is not willing to scrap labour brokers, which is one of the union's chief demands.

Watch: Thousands join nationwide Numsa strike

The union was initially demanding a 12 percent wage increase, a R1,000 housing allowance, career and training opportunities for all workers and the banning of labour broking and has vowed to cripple the metal and automotive industries if its demands are not met.

But have now revised the wage demand to 15 percent.

Neasa, which represents about 3,000 companies, says it needs to cut the entry level wages of new employees by 50 percent to make the industry more competitive.

CEO Gerhard Papenfus says, "The industry is not creating any work at all at this stage and it's better to have a lesser wage than not having a wage at all. We need to do something and we need to do it drastically. If there's another way, a different way, then we will seriously consider that."

Watch: JHB Numsa strike in pictures

STRIKE VIOLENCE

While Numsa has condemned reports of violence and intimidation that has characterised its wage strike, it says it will continue striking indefinitely until its demands are met.

The strike has seen widespread intimidation and theft, especially on the East Rand.

A number of factory owners and non-striking workers were assaulted last week and millions of rands worth of computers, office equipment and other belongings were damaged and stolen.

Watch: Factories under attack in Benoni

A heavily pregnant woman was among several people assaulted and business owners in industrial areas on the East Rand have told workers to stay at home for now.

Twenty six people have been arrested in connection with the violence.