South African tyre and component workers are staging a mass strike that has seen 70,000 employees down tools in protest at wages and conditions.

Negotiations have broken down after three months leading to two out of the seven major producers in South Africa thought to have stopped work.

“The strike started yesterday and there are 70,000 on strike,” National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) president Cederic Gina told just-auto.

“As I speak there is a meeting with the Retained Motor Industry in Johannesburg – I am not that confident we will find a solution.”

The union is seeking a pay increase of 15%, as well as six months maternity leave and better severance pay, although it insists it has dropped its wage demands from 20% to the lower rate. NUMSA says the employers have offered 6.6%.

NUMSA’s walkout comes on top of the recent strike by South African auto workers, whose eight-day stoppage cost the industry ZAR3.4bn (US$470.4m).

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“From an external point of view there are no obvious prospects of a solution,” Automobile Manufacturers Employers Organisation (AMEO) chairman Chris Thexton told just-auto.

“If this continues to next week, pretty much most of the industry will come to a full stop in terms of production.

“That magnifies the loss of our strike and we are extremely concerned – we are urging them to find an acceptable outcome.”