Jim: Strikers, employers 'not far' from deal

Johannesburg -  Striking engineering and metal workers and employers are "not very far from each other" on a wage deal to end a four-day walkout, the general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Friday.

Irvin Jim told Reuters that issues around the youth wage subsidy and the removal of labour brokers were key to a settlement to end the strike.

The strike in the metals and engineering sectors by over 200 000 Numsa members began on Tuesday, dealing a fresh blow to the economy after a five-month platinum mining stoppage that ended last week.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) said it had tabled wage hikes of up to 10%, up from 8% previously. The union wants increases of 12% to 15%, more than double the inflation rate.

There have been reports of violence, and police on Thursday said officers had fired rubber bullets to disperse workers blocking the entrance to the construction site of Eskom's Medupi power station.

Economic damage is already being felt as the stoppage hits supplies of beverage cans and auto parts. The automotive sector might have to halt production if it continues beyond a week.
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