The National Union of Metalworkers striking workers march in central Johannesburg. The union wants a 12 percent salary increase, the scrapping of labour brokers, and a one-year bargaining agreement. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi received a tumultuous welcome from striking metalworkers in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The thousands of strikers shouted “Vavi, Vavi!” and scrambled to shake hands with him outside the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council's (MEIBC) offices in central Johannesburg.

Police and marshals had their hands full as marchers pushed each other aside trying to get to Vavi.

Majority union in the sector, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) supported Vavi during his suspension by the Congress of SA Trade Unions.

Vavi is expected to address the workers and hand over a memorandum to MEIBC officials.

About 220,000 metalworkers began an indefinite strike on Tuesday for a double-digit wage increase.

Marches were being held in Cape Town, George, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and East London. - Sapa