Johannesburg – A federation of companies in South Africa’s metal and engineering sector said wage talks with unions deadlocked on Thursday, raising the threat of a strike by almost 200 000 workers.
Three employer organisations declared a dispute with the country’s largest union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the United Association of South Africa (UASA) and two smaller unions, a statement from the bargaining council said.
UASA negotiator Johan van Niekerk said if the next stage of negotiations reach no agreement, a strike is on the cards.
“If the conciliation process fails, we will consider industrial action,” he said.
The two sides are still far apart. The unions want wages raised by 15%, while employers want to raise them by only 6.1%.
The lowest-paid members of the unions make around R4 000 rand a month.
Labour relations are already tense in SA. The longest strike in the country’s history is underway in the platinum sector.
Employers and labour unions will meet next week for more talks after the unions receive a fresh mandate from members this weekend.