Durban, South AfricaMembers of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) protest on the streets of Durban July 1, 2014. More than 220,000 South African engineering and metal workers launched a strike over wages on Tuesday, hot on the heels of a crippling platinum dispute and dealing a further blow to an already weak economy.

Johannesburg - Dozens of National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members picketed outside Eskom's Megawatt Park headquarters in Sunninghill, Johannesburg, on Wednesday morning.

The men and women, wearing red Numsa T-shirts, waved sticks and placards in support of their demand for a 12 percent across the board wage increase.

The also want a R1000 housing allowance, and a standby allowance of R100.

Placards held by the picketers read: “1 year agreement”, “3 years agreement equals slavery”, and “We demand 30 days minimum time off”.

On Tuesday Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger said the power utility obtained a court interdict preventing its employees from striking.

It argued that because Eskom was designated an essential service provider workers were prohibited from striking.

On Thursday, Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said the union was prepared to go on an illegal strike at Eskom.

“We are quite willing to risk unprotected action. This time around, Numsa members in Eskom shall not be deterred by the so-called essential service provisions behind which Eskom is hiding. This is no empty threat.”

Eskom would not disclose what it had offered in the ongoing wage negotiations.

On Wednesday, leaders of the picket ushered Numsa members out of the street along which they were protesting as metro police kept watch.

One of the leaders encouraged picketers to be more lively.

“You are not moving, you are not singing,” he said to those standing at the back of the crowd.

“Those who do not know how to dance, they can clap their hands,” he told them. - Sapa