South Africa Metalworker Employers Meet Union for Strike Talks

The South African union leading a walkout by 220,000 metalworkers will resume talks with employers today on ending the strike after mediation from the Labor Ministry.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa is meeting the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa at 9 a.m., Numsa National Treasurer Mphumzi Maqungo said by mobile phone yesterday. The union hasn’t yet received a new offer from the employers group, he said.

Government officials met separately with Numsa and representatives of manufacturing and engineering groups yesterday, Mokgadi Pela, a spokesman for the labor department, said by phone. “Talks are at a very advanced and sensitive stage,” he said. The parties are close to an agreement on wage increases while contentious issues include labor brokers, youth wage subsidies and housing allowances, he said.

The strike that began on July 1 is costing the South African manufacturing industry about 300 million rand ($28 million) per day, according to Seifsa. As many as 12,000 employers are affected, while supply and production has been hurt at carmakers including General Motors Co. and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

Numsa last week rejected an improved offer from Seifsa, the main employers’ group, to increase the salaries of lowest-paid workers by 10 percent this year. Numsa is demanding a 12 percent raise. South Africa’s annual inflation rate was 6.6 percent in May.

Police arrested 53 Numsa members yesterday following attacks on trucks and offices east of Johannesburg, according to Lungelo Dlamini, police spokesman for Gauteng province, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located.

“They were arrested in relation to malicious damage of property and public violence,” Dlamini said by phone. “We are monitoring the strike with more vigilance.”

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