Workers from the National Union of Metalworkers of SA. File photo: Mogomotsi Magome.

Johannesburg - Numsa should abandon its plan to strike and return to the negotiating table, the National Employers' Association of SA (Neasa) said on Monday.

“A strike at this stage, when we haven't even attempted to constructively address the critical issues, is premature and irresponsible,” Neasa chief executive Gerhard Papenfus said in a statement.

“Agreements which are the result of strikes, where employers are muscled into deals which they cannot afford, will only bring about short term solutions.”

More than 220,000 National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members in the steel and metal workers sector will embark on strike across the country on Tuesday.

The union was demanding a 12 percent salary increase, the scrapping of labour brokers and a one-year bargaining agreement.

Numsa members at Eskom would also picket on Wednesday at Eskom's head office demanding an increase of 12 percent across the board.

The union was seeking a R1000 housing allowance and a standby allowance of R100.

Papenfus said his organisation agreed to trade union Solidarity's request that negotiations continue for at least a further 21 days and that any strike action be postponed.

“If Numsa has any intention of resolving this dispute, if they have a desire to prevent the damage to business and avoid the economic tragedy their members will inevitable suffer, they will grasp this opportunity and suspend the strike,” said Papenfus.

On Sunday, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the strike was a campaign for a living minimum wage for workers.

“When the economy is bad the bosses make money, when the economy is good the bosses make money,” he told reporters at a briefing in Johannesburg. - Sapa