A major strike by South African engineering and metal workers, which has already hit the vital auto manufacturing sector, is now disrupting building construction, the industry said on Wednesday.
The strike by about 200,000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has affected an estimated 10,500 companies and threatens to push the country further towards recession.
With the stoppage in its third week, auto manufacturers General Motors, Ford and Toyota have all announced various levels of disruption to production because of a shortage of components from strike-hit suppliers.
On Wednesday, Master Builders South Africa, the employers’ organisation, said the strike had also disrupted the supply of building materials to contractors.
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa
“Work has slowed down substantially on building sites as MBSA members are deprived of essential building components, such as steel plates, framework, pipes, windows and doors, or any other metal component produced by factories affected by the Numsa strike,” said CEO Tumi Dlamini.
“The increasing woes of the building industry have been well-documented and this new setback could well be the last straw for many struggling contractors,” she said.
Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said on Wednesday that the strike was costing the industry R300 million ($28 million) per day.
Negotiations broke down at the weekend when the union rejected a Seifsa offer of a 10-percent wage hike this year, to be followed by an increase of 9.5 percent in 2015 and nine percent in 2016.
The union indicated that while it preferred a one-year deal, it might accept a 10-percent increase each year for the next three years.
The parties are expected to meet again at the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council on Thursday.
The strike began just days after the end of a five-month walkout by platinum miners which contributed to a contraction of the economy in the first quarter and pushed the country to the brink of recession.



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