South Africas government has now become involved in the metalworking strike

South Africa's government has now become involved in the metalworking strike

Five out of South Africa's seven automaker's have been forced to reduce or stop production with the country's huge metalworking strike now involving Pretoria in an effort to stem the growing industrial unrest.

Some 220,000 employees from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa have walked out in a dispute surrounding pay, with reports in the country suggesting the massive dispute is now also spilling over into the construction and energy sectors.

NUMSA submitted a three-year pay claim comprising a 10% increase every 12 months to 2016 - a request roundly rejected by the country's Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA), which has now passed the negotiations to the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC).

"There is active involvement now by the government to bring a resolution to the strike - through the Minister of Labour," National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA), director, Nico Vermeulen, told just-auto from Midrand near Johannesburg.

"It affects between 15 and 20 component companies - for historical reasons [they] form part of the bargaining council for the steel and engineering industry. It is an anomaly - it should not be the case.

"They should be part of the component industry collective bargaining structure, which reached agreement in October last year on a three-year agreement.

"One of the objectives is to get a demarcation and to get these 18-odd component companies that are under pressure - that pressure is finding its way to the production lines of vehicle manufacturers - those should be re-demarcated into the component industry framework."

NUMSA's National Strike Committee says it will "intensify and accelerate" industrial action, that could include the plastics and electricity generation sectors, while it will also hold pickets and demonstrations in the auto, tyre and mining industries.

"We know history is on our side," a NUMSA statement said. "We shall prevail in our fight against unjust and colonial wages."

South Africa has only just recovered from last September's disastrous three-week walkout that cost the automotive sector US$58m a day and concerns have been raised continued industrial unrest is harming the country's reputation as an automotive supplier to international markets.