South Africa transport strike talks resume

Sun May 16, 2010 11:19am EDT

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* Talks resume to break week-long strike

* Mining, fruit, wine exports hit

JOHANNESBURG, May 16 (Reuters) - Talks resumed on Sunday between South African transport workers and state logistics group Transnet [TRAN.UL] to try to end a week-long strike over a disputed pay deal that is hitting the economy hard.

A Transnet spokesman confirmed the meeting but declined to give details on talks between the two sides, who wound up their last round of discussion at midnight on Friday with no agreement.

The strike has paralysed South Africa's port and rail operations and hit exports of metals, fruit and wine to Europe and Asia after nearly two-thirds of Transnet's 54,000-strong workforce joined the labour action.

It is the latest protest in the country hosting next month's soccer World Cup, which is being held in Africa for the first time. There were concerns the strike could impact imports of equipment for the soccer event starting next month.

The unions want a 15 percent pay rise, above the 11 percent offered by Transnet, fuelling criticism among analysts and the central bank who say a pay rise well above the 5.1 inflation rate would slow South Africa's economic recovery.

Anglo American Plc's (AAL.L) iron ore unit in South Africa has declared force majeure on shipments, joining other global metal exporters such as Xstrata XTA.L, which said it could not supply ferrochrome to its customers. [ID:nLDE64B2B7]

The unions said 60 percent of Transnet's port, rail and fuel operations were disrupted, with no import goods being offloaded. (Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Reed Stevenson)

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