Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete File photo: Nicholas Thabo Tau

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has decided to down tools in the engineering and metals industry over wage increases.

The industrial action will see more than 220 000 Numsa members downing tools from July 1.

The strike is bound to have massive impact on the industry as Numsa represents around half of those employed.

Bosses in the industry have called on the union not to down tools, saying the economy has already taken a massive knock due to the five-month long mining strike which ended this week.

But Numsa said on Thursday that the union had no choice.

“This was not an easy decision, but a painful one, not taken with a pinch of salt, since the principle of no work no pay will be held by greedy bosses,” Karl Cloete, Numsa's deputy general secretary, told reporters in Johannesburg.

“It has never been our agenda to call a strike, this strike has been imposed on us,” he said.

Numsa is demanding a 12% wage hike after recently moving from 15% for one year. Companies are offering 7%. For the first year in a three-year wage deal.

It also wants the scrapping of labour brokers.

“Most of our members organised in this sector live in shacks and informal settlements ... because their wages are insufficient to afford decent housing and other important basic necessities.

“There will be no settlements whatsoever unless a double digit increase is achieved,” Cloete said.

Although there are concerns that the strike will be drawn out like the mining one, some believe because Numsa is requesting a double digit increase instead of a certain cash amount, it will not last as long.

Numsa is also considering a strike at Eskom along with another affiliate from the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the National Union of Mineworkers.

The Star