Johannesburg - Unions and employers must iron out “sticky issues” and end the metals and engineering sector strike, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant's spokesman said on Sunday.
“There are still sticky issues around labour broking, the youth wage subsidy, and housing, and the parties are being urged to resolve those issues,” Mokgadi Pela said.
He said there was no update on talks between employers and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).
“As you know, we met employers on Friday afternoon, and we met with Numsa in the evening. All I can tell you is that in terms of wage percentages the union is closer than ever before to the amount they wanted, but I can't tell you what the amount is.”
Numsa started striking for a double-digit wage increase on Tuesday, and several smaller unions have joined in.
Union spokesman Castro Ngobese and employers could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Numsa wants a 15 percent wage increase and a R1000 housing allowance in a one-year bargaining agreement. It further wants an end to the use of labour brokers.
On Sunday, police warned that “criminal elements” allegedly affiliated to Numsa would not be tolerated.
“Police will use all available information to identify and arrest the perpetrators,” Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said.
“An appeal is also being made to the members of the public as well owners of the affected industries to report criminal activities immediately to the police.”
On Thursday, the biggest employers' organisation, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA, tabled a three-year wage offer of between eight and 10 percent for different levels of workers in the first year.
The first category of worker was offered seven percent in 2015
and 2016, while the others were offered nine percent in the second year, and eight percent in the final year.
The National Employers' Association of SA has offered eight percent, subject to an agreement for entry-level workers' wages to be lowered and measures to make the industry more flexible.
On Friday, 26 people were arrested in Gauteng for intimidation, public violence and malicious damage to property related to the strike.
Dlamini said of these 19 were arrested in Elandsfontein on the East Rand after protesters broke the gate of a business. When police arrived, the crowd stoned their vehicles. Police used rubber bullets to disperse them.
In Benoni on Thursday, around 2000 striking workers forced their way into a company and caused damage estimated at millions of rands to equipment and computers.
In Wadeville, also on the East Rand, nine people were arrested for allegedly breaking windows at a business.