JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s UASA union has broadly accepted an offer for wage increases of up to 10%, a spokesman said on Thursday, a move that would take about 20 000 metal workers out of a three-week strike that has hit the supply of auto parts.
More than 200 000 metal and engineering workers downed tools on July 2, demanding higher wages and dealing a further blow to the ailing South African economy.
This week, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) “reluctantly” agreed to raise salaries by between 7 and 10% and gave unions until Friday to make up their minds.
One of the smaller unions, the United Association of South Africa (Uasa), said it has no qualms with the financial portion of the offer but was awaiting a reply from Seifsa on questions about other aspects of the deal.
“The members have already accepted the financial improvement portion of the offer, so I’d say we have accepted the offer in principle,” spokesman Johan van Niekerk said. “However, there are a few concerns about the offer.”
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), which represents virtually all the workers on strike in the sector, is yet to make up its mind on the offer.
Numsa has been holding meetings this week to solicit feedback from members about the offer, which Seifsa has said would “inevitably lead to massive job losses”.
Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese said his union, South Africa’s biggest, was most likely to going to make a decision on the offer at the weekend.
The industrial action has also disrupted work at construction sites of two vital power stations for state utility Eskom and has dealt a further blow to an economy reeling from a five-month walkout in the platinum mines.
Separately, about 3 000 cotton textile workers went on strike on Thursday, demanding a 10% pay rise after rejected a 7.75% offer, union leaders said.