Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant. File picture: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - The South African government will continue talks with trade unions and employers today after it renewed efforts to break a stalemate affecting 12,000 companies and carmakers including Nissan and Toyota.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant met yesterday with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the country’s biggest labour group, and the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa, which represents larger companies, with negotiations continuing until 11pm, Mokgadi Pela, spokesman for the Pretoria-based ministry, said by phone.

“We are trying to find a solution,” Pela said. “That is the crucial thing.”

The strike by more than 220,000 Numsa members has disrupted manufacturing output, threatening an economy still reeling from a five-month strike by platinum mineworkers that ended in June, costing the world’s three biggest producers, 23.9 billion rand in revenue, while workers lost 10.6 billion rand in wages.

The continent’s second-biggest economy contracted in the first quarter, the first decline since a 2009 recession.

Mediation by the labour department last week failed after the union rejected a three-year wage offer from Seifsa, as the employers’ lobby is known.

The organisation says the industry is losing about 300 million rand daily during the strike, which started on July 1.

The stoppage affects employers including companies such as Bell Equipment, Evraz Highveld Steel & Vanadium and units of Murray & Roberts and Aveng.

Nissan temporarily closed its production plant in Rosslyn, near the capital, Pretoria, from July 14 to July 21, the company’s South African unit said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Toyota and Ford have also temporarily halted local production. - Bloomberg News