170,000 South African metalworkers go on strike

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) officially embarked on strike action on Monday, following a breakdown in negotiations at the end of June, saying it would not budge on its demands for a 13% across-the-board hike, better working conditions and a ban on labour brokers.

Numsa, which represents about 120 000 workers, is being joined by five other trade unions, jointly representing at least another 50 000 workers.

The strike action comes hard on the heels of growing alarm among South African mines about the impact of increasing talk of nationalization from factions within the ruling party.

Mail & Guardian Online reports:

In the past financial year, the construction and manufacturing sector, which are seen as the main proponents of the steel industry, contributed 18.3% to the overall gross domestic product of the South African economy.

Steel sector wages vary depending on the skill levels in each job, but the average wage for unskilled to semi-skilled workers in the steel sector ranges from R18 to R30 an hour.

Last week MINING.com reported on Impala Platinum Holdings stating that South Africa risks cutting mine output that contributes 8.8% of the economy as calls from within the governing political party for a state takeover of the industry deter investors.

Mine operators in South Africa are compelled by law to sell 26% of their assets to black investors by 2014 and boost numbers of black managers to help make up for discrimination during apartheid. Some companies had missed targets for 2009, the mines minister said at the time, adding that the industry had “not lived up to the spirit and intent” of the law.

$1.00 = approximately R7.00.

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