Numsa strike a step closer to resolution

Seifsa members have voted 12 to 10 to offer a three-year 10 percent increase to striking workers.

FILE: Numsa members march for better wages in Cape Town on 1 July 2013. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - The Steel and Engineering Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) says its affiliated employer bodies have conditionally accepted a wage proposal by Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant to end a three-week strike in the sector.

Around 200,000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa ( Numsa) downed tools in the automotive and metals industries on 1 July, bringing vast numbers of companies to a standstill.

The striking workers are demanding a wage increase of 10 percent every year for the next three years.

The mass action has been marred by violence and intimidation.

At the weekend, 27 employer bodies affiliated to Seifsa met to vote on a proposal of a 10 percent wage hike for the lowest paid workers over three years.

The deal was accepted by a vote of 12 against 10.

Seifsa CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba says employer bodies in his federation have been frustrated by the ongoing strike and many remain opposed to the offer.

"There's a great deal of anger and disappointment on the part of the Seifsa-affiliated associations about the fact that they are being called upon to offer increases that are so high."

Numsa has not yet responded to the offer.

The strike has damaged wider investor sentiment in Africa's most advanced economy, which is teetering on the brink of recession after a first-quarter contraction caused in part by the five-month strike in the platinum sector.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut South Africa's credit rating last month while Fitch put it on negative watch, both citing poor growth prospects mainly because of strikes.