Johannesburg - The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) on Tuesday said it was concerned by the country's shrinking economy caused by strike action.

CEO of Seifsa, Kaizer Nyatsumba, said he was worried about what damage the Numsa strike would have given that each day employees spent away from work cost the industry more than R300 million.

“Ours is a very strategic sector with both upstream and downstream impacts on other important industries like mining, construction and auto manufacturing,” said Nyatsumba.

“Therefore, it is not just companies in the sector that are affected or stand to be affected, but it is also those companies in these other industries,” he said in a statement shortly after receiving a memorandum from striking Numsa workers in Johannesburg.

Around 220,000 members of Numsa in the steel and metal sector began an indefinite strike for a double digit wage increase on Tuesday. The union's members marched in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, George, and Cape Town.

Nyatsumba said some international companies which had businesses in the country were considering closing their operations and moving them to countries with a more stable labour dispensation.

He said Seifsa was determined to work towards finding a resolution so workers could return to work.

“For the sake of our economy, which has been seriously under-performing and has already taken a considerable hammering as a result of the strike in the platinum sector that ended last week, we hope that it will be possible for us, employers and labour, to find one another over the next few days,” said Nyatsumba.

“This will call for a greater degree of realism on the part of labour in terms of its lofty demands and expectations.”

He welcomed the intervention by Labour Minister Mildren Oliphant who met Numsa and Seifsa.

Another meeting was scheduled for Friday.