Johannesburg - Striking engineering and metals workers have rejected an improved wage offer to end South Africa's largest-ever strike, firms said on Friday, as the stoppage spilled over to the vital auto sector.
Representatives for the roughly 200 000 workers who downed tools on Tuesday, rejected a 10% pay increase for some employees this year, 9% increase in 2015 and 8% in 2016, said the industry federation Seifsa (Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA)
Chief executive Kaizer Nyatsumba said the multi-year offer was "the very best" firms could do "under these difficult economic circumstances," raising the spectre of protracted negotiations.
The National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) - the largest union representing workers across several sectors - has demanded wage increases of up to 15% in a one-year deal.
The strike has hit an estimated 10 500 companies across South Africa worth an aggregate 4% of economic output and threatens to push the country further toward recession.
The economy shrank in the first quarter amid a five-month-long strike in the country's platinum mines that was only resolved last week.