Striking union, NUMSA (National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa), is laying the blame for the three-week old dispute severly affecting automakers, firmly at the employers' door.

The union has called out 220,000 members on strike in support of wage claims, with the South African government now also wading in to halt what some perceive as the latest in a series of highly damaging walk-outs.

NUMSA has requested a three-year pay deal of 10% for each of the next three years in contrast to the employers' offer of 10%, 9.5% and 9%.

"The real thing is with the employers," NUMSA head of collective bargaining, Stephen Nhlapo, told just-auto from South Africa.

"The ball is with the employers and they need to play the soccer ball - not to play the man."

South Africa's automotive manufacturing association (NAAMSA) director, Nico Vermeulen, today (17 July) told just-auto from Johannesburg, some five out of the country's seven automakers had either had to stop or alter production levels as component producers were affected by the strike.

South Africa's automotive employer body says there is real worry in the country surrounding the state of labour relations as the metalworking strike continues to cripple large swathes of the industry.

"Of course there are some collateral impacts that an engineering strike does have on the automotive sector," Automotive Employers Organisation (AMEO) chairman, Thapelo Molapo, told just-auto from South Africa.

"A number of us have had to suspend production at the moment. South Africa has a general concern with the state of industrial relations in the country. This is an additional cause for concern."

The NAAMSA director noted the South African government had now become involved in complex negotiations to broker a way through the impasse, which some observers say could spill over into the mining and electricity generation sectors.