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Tens of thousands to join South African strikes

29 August, 2013With deadlocks over wage demands in the mining, metal and textile sectors, thousands of workers prepare to take strike action next week, joining those already striking for higher wages, above the inflation rate of 5.6 per cent.

More than 31 000 workers in the auto manufacturing sector downed tools on 19 August demanding a 14 per cent wage increase. The strike continues as National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) consults its members on a revised offer of 10 per cent from employers, up from 6 per cent.

Getting ready to join their comrades on 2 September are about 72,000 Numsa members after a breakdown in wage negotiations with the Fuel Retailers Association and the Retail Motor Industry Organisation.

Meanwhile, up to 90,000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are ready to respond to a strike call on the weekend after wage talks faltered in the gold sector. The NUM, which is the majority union in the sector, has given employers until 30 August to meet its demands for up to 60 per cent wage increase. The Chamber of Mines, negotiating on behalf of gold sector employers has put forward a final offer of between 6 and 6.5 per cent, which the NUM has rejected as this is only slightly above inflation.

In the textile sector, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) has conducted a strike ballot where workers have voted in favour of a strike should their wage dispute with employers not be settled. SACTWU is preparing to submit a 48 hour strike notice top employers on 2 September after which 50,000 of its members will take up strike action in support of their demands for a 7 per cent wage increase in metropolitan areas and 11 per cent for those in non-metro areas.