South African union sources say negotiations will start this afternoon (22 August) in a bid to resolve the national automotive strike that has virtually shut down all production.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA), are at loggerheads concerning the labour body's 14% pay demand coupled with housing and transport benefits, with the resulting walkout crippling the country's auto operations.

As well as the talks starting, NUMSA added general meetings would also be held in all the major plants in Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, East London, Uitenhage and Durban "to give feedback to our members."

However, the union is keen to point out it intends to continue its strike action despite the start of negotiations, while pickets and demonstrations outside vehicle plants will also be maintained.

Planned marches for next week in Gauteng and East Cape will go ahead as planned.

Pickets are currently demonstrating outside all seven OEMs as well as two truck and bus companies in South Africa, with the strike costing what employers estimate to be around 3,300 vehicles every day.

The labour body is demanding a 14% pay rise as well as housing and transport benefits, while NAAMSA has offered 8% against what it says is a South Africa inflation rate of 5.6%.