S.Africa hit by strikes

September 2, 2013
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Striking workers outside Ford's plant in Pretoria on August 20. Industrial action in South Africa paralyzed construction and automotive sectors on Monday, unions and a strike/AFP
Striking workers outside Ford’s plant in Pretoria on August 20. Industrial action in South Africa paralyzed construction and automotive sectors on Monday, unions and a strike/AFP

, JOHANNESBURG, September 2, 2013 (AFP) – Industrial action in South Africa paralysed construction and automotive sectors on Monday, unions and employers said, but tens of thousands of petrol attendants delayed a strike.

About 72,000 workers who serve petrol at fuel stations said they would have further talks before stoppages that are likely to hit consumers hard, according to union Numsa.

“We are having talks with employers on Wednesday and Thursday. If nothing comes from those talks, the strike will begin the 9th of September,” said Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese.

Meanwhile cross-sector stoppages continued.

Mass strikes in the construction industry continued to hold up work across Africa’s largest economy after over 45,000 downed tools last week, according to an industry spokeswoman.

“Between 39 and 55 percent of workers did not turn up for work, so companies are affected nationwide,” said South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors spokeswoman Annemie Cowley.

Labour group the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which also represents construction workers, rejected an offer of a-10 percent wage increase for the least-skilled workers on Friday, saying it was too little.

“There is no end in sight for the strike action in construction, it continues until the employers grant our demands,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka was quoted as saying by Sapa news agency.

About 30,000 automobile workers maintained their stoppages that halted the key industry a week ago, holding out for at least 10 percent annual increase for the next three years.

Employers are offering an initial ten-percent hike, but less the following two years.

“The strike is still on,” National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo told AFP.

Meanwhile gold miners would start striking from the night shift on Tuesday, after exhaustive wage negotiations with the Chamber of Mines collapsed.

Seven gold mining firms had offered a 6.5 percent wage hike, but rival unions had demanded increases of 60 to 150 percent for members, in a what at times appeared to be a bidding war designed to win support.

Meanwhile top global producer Anglo American Platinum handed 3,300 workers dismissal notices in restructuring on Monday.

The majority labour group at the mine, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), was meeting to discuss strike action across sectors, its president Joseph Mathunjwa told AFP.

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