S.Africa employers say striking union rejects new wage offer

by Reuters
Friday, 4 July 2014 06:54 GMT

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JOHANNESBURG, July 4 (Reuters) - South Africa's striking NUMSA union has rejected an increased wage offer and there have been "serious incidents of violence" by strikers, employers' group SEIFSA said on Friday.

The strike in the metals and engineering sectors by over 200,000 NUMSA members began on Tuesday, dealing a fresh blow to Africa's most advanced economy after a five-month platinum mining stoppage that ended last week.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) said it had tabled wage hikes of up to 10 percent, up from 8 percent previously. The union wants increases of 12 to 15 percent, more than double the inflation rate.

"Regrettably, it would appear that we continue to be miles apart with the union," SEIFSA chief executive Kaizer Nyatsumba said in a statement.

The offer was made during late-night talks on Thursday between the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and SEIFSA. A NUMSA spokesman earlier declined to comment on the outcome of the talks.

There have been reports of violence and South African police on Thursday said officers had fired rubber bullets to disperse workers blocking the entrance to the construction site of state power utility Eskom's Medupi power station.

Economic damage is already being felt as the stoppage hits supplies of beverage cans and auto parts. The automotive sector might have to halt production if it continues beyond a week.

South Africa's biggest packaging group, Nampak Ltd, said about 40 percent of the 4,000 employees in its metals and rigid plastics division had failed to report for work. (Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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