Numsa to resume wage talks

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BR NUMSA  154 Independent Newspapers. The National Union of Metalworkers striking workers march in central Johannesburg. The union wants a 12 percent salary increase, the scrapping of labour brokers, and a one-year bargaining agreement. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - The head of South Africa's striking Numsa union said on Wednesday wage talks with an employers group will resume on Thursday night after more than 200,000 workers in the engineering and metals industry downed tools on Tuesday.

“We will be meeting for talks on Thursday night, the principle is a double-digit increase,” Irvin Jim, Numsa's general secretary, told Reuters.

Numsa, South Africa's largest union, is demanding wage increases of between 12 and 15 percent from more than 10,000 employers which are represented by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa).

“We are dealing with workers who are earning as little as 5,400 rand a month, nobody can be able to live on that,” said Jim.

The union will on Wednesday picket at power utility Eskom's headquarters in Johannesburg and has threatened to strike for better wages at its operations despite a labour court decision preventing it from doing so.

Jim said the union would not allow Eskom to “hide behind the law” but that for now its workers will not down tools there and restrict their protest activity to picketing.

Numsa's engineering and metal workers strike comes a week after platinum miners went back to work after a crippling five-month stoppage that sent Africa's most advanced economy into contraction in the first quarter. - Reuters

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