As a resolution to the five-month wage strike in South Africa’s platinum sector has finally been reached, labour action has begun flaring up in other sectors of the country’s struggling economy.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has begun a strike today and is likely to hinder the platinum sector in its goal to ramp up production quickly. The strike is also a major setback for the construction of the Medupi Power Station in Lephalale in Limpopo power station as it is already far behind in terms of its completion deadline.
Johan Theron, head of corporate affairs at Impala Platinum, said that Eskom had assured it of its contingency plans in the event of an Eskom workers strike owing to the fact that 11 000 of the power utility’s employees are Numsa members, adding that the bigger risk was the mere fact the platinum sector would be drawing 400MW from the national grid. “The grid is going to be very tight again,” he said.
Members of Numsa who are working under the engineering and steel sector at the multibillion power station are expected to join the nationwide strike and construction work is once again expected to be brought to a halt.
Eskom is offering wage increases of 5.6%, while workers are demanding 8%. Over 200 000 Numsa affiliated workers are seeking a 12 percent wage hike across the board, a R1000 housing allowance increase and has also demanded the scrapping of labour brokers.
There are fears that Numsa’s strike, coupled with the effects of the long and costly platinum strike, could push South Africa’s economy into a second recession.
“Our economy has been bleeding terribly, and on top of that manufacturing in general has been doing very badly over the last few years, so we are concerned about any possible impact on the economy. We have offered seven percent to the higher earning workers and on the lower end of the scale, eight percent,” said Seifsa chief executive Kaizer Nyatsumba.
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