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Numsa members urged to return to work

The metalworkers union yesterday announced an end to its almost month-long wage strike.

FILE: Numsa members on strike in Johannesburg on 1 July 2014. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has urged all its members to return to work this morning after it yesterday announced an end to its almost month-long strike.

The union on Monday said it had accepted a deal with trade union Solidarity and the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) to secure a 10 percent increase for its lowest paid members for the next three years.

More than 200,000 Numsa-affiliated members downed tools in the metal, engineering and automotive sectors on 1 July to demand higher wages, halting production at automakers including General Motors and hitting work at new power plants.

The union has described the latest wage agreement as a massive victory for its members.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim says the settlement is the product of sweat and bitter struggles.

"This is a massive victory, given the pittance offer at the point of deadlock."

He says the offer has been overwhelmingly accepted by all its members.

"We got a resounding mandate that we should settle."

The union says it may take some time for the message to reach all its members but it expects a full return to work by Thursday.

A smaller union, the 20,000-strong United Association of South Africa earlier said it had accepted the wage increase offer.

However, the National Employers' Association of South Africa (Neasa) has not accepted the deal, saying it's simply unaffordable for smaller companies and plans to challenge the agreement.

The metals and engineering strike came soon after the end of a five-month walkout in the platinum sector, the longest and costliest strike in South Africa's history.