* Some 200,000 members of NUMSA union went on strike last
* GM says has enough inventory for medium term
* No impact at Mercedes Benz, full production at Toyota
* Wildcat strike at platinum mine shows wider labour woes
(Adds strikers at Implats mine to go back to work)
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN, July 7 South Africa's metalworkers
union said wage talks to settle a week-old strike would resume
on Tuesday, offering some hope to an industrial sector plagued
by disruptions in Africa's most advanced economy.
More than 200,000 National Union of Metalworkers of South
Africa (NUMSA) members downed tools a week ago and are demanding
wage increases of between 12-15 percent.
In a separate dispute, some 2,000 miners who had staged a
smaller wildcat strike at one platinum mine since Friday
indicated they were ready to return to work on Tuesday and
agreed to formal wage talks, the mine company said.
The wider NUMSA-led strike action has dealt a further blow
to the ailing South African economy, coming just two weeks after
miners in the key platinum sector agreed a slightly higher wage
deal to settle a five-month stoppage.
"If the employers can present something that we strongly
feel we can take back to our members for a mandate, we will
gladly do that," NUMSA spokesman Castro Ngobese said. "But in
the absence of that, the strike continues."
Ngobese said the union had not received a revised offer. The
Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of Southern Africa
said last week that NUMSA rejected its 10 percent offer.
Employers and labour representatives met again with
government officials on Monday as Pretoria intervened to try to
break the deadlock costing the country's metals industry - which
has shed hundreds of thousands of jobs the past decade - an
estimated 300 million rand ($27.8 million) a day.
The union is also demanding that any pay agreements apply
for a year only while companies want a three-year deal.
The strike has hit components factories supplying General
Motors' South African plant. However, the U.S. auto maker
said it had sufficient inventory for both domestic and export
customers for the medium term.
"The strike in the metal and engineering sector has impacted
upon supply of components to our production line, resulting in
our line not being operational since July 3," GM spokeswoman
Denise Van Huyssteen said. "To date we have lost three days of
German counterpart BMW brought forward a week of a
pre-planned annual plant shutdown for maintenance last week,
spokesman Guy Kilfoil said.
"We were going to close the plant at some point during the
year for maintenance anyway. We just brought it forward because
we knew the strike was coming," Kilfoil said, adding the factory
would reopen on Tuesday.
Compatriot Mercedes Benz said there had been no
impact so far at its local operations, while Toyota
said it was still at "full production".
At Impala Platinum's Marula mine, some 2,000 miners
affiliated to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) who had
been striking since Friday indicated they would return to the
shafts on Tuesday and press their pay demands through "formal
channels", Implats spokesman Johan Theron said.
He said their precise demands remained unclear.
Implats, the world's second largest producer of platinum,
and rivals Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin
are still reeling from the five-month platinum sector strike
that ended in late June.
That stoppage was led by NUM's rival, the Association of
Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which eventually
settled for wage hikes of up to around 20 percent.
The Marula operation was not hit by that strike as its
NUM-affiliated workforce signed a wage deal last year.
But Theron said on Friday that it seemed the Marula miners
now wanted the same wage deal that AMCU obtained for its members
at other Implats mines.
($1 = 10.7975 South African Rand)
(Additional reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng, Ed Stoddard,
Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Stella
Mapenzauswa, John Stonestreet and Pascal Fletcher)