Continental tyres.

Port Elizabeth - Production is likely to resume at Continental Tyre South Africa’s plant in Port Elizabeth only on May 12, despite the suspension of the strike.

An in-principle agreement has been reached to resolve a weekend pay dispute.

The strike began on April 15 and has resulted in between R7 million and R10m a day in lost production.

Phumzile Nodongwe, the regional secretary for the National union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) in Port Elizabeth, said on Wednesday that the union had agreed to suspend the strike based on the acceptance by the workers of the new shift pattern and pay rates proposed by the firm.

However, he said Continental wanted to resume production only on May 12 and Numsa was demanding that workers be paid for seven-and-a-half hours a day until production resumed because the strike had been suspended.

Nodongwe said the company had also informed the union that the new shift pattern meant about 130 workers were facing retrenchment.

He said Numsa had informed the firm that any retrenchments had to be dealt with in terms of the provisions of the Labour Relations Act.

Further meetings and discussions were planned.

Attie Higgs, the human resources manager at Continental, said it would meet Numsa representatives today or on Monday and the plant would remain closed until agreement had been reached on outstanding issues.

He said things looked positive for the resolution of the dispute after Numsa had indicated the acceptance by workers of the proposed change from five to four shifts.