JOHANNESBURG, July 1 A strike by more than
220,000 engineering workers, hot on the heels of a crippling
platinum boycott which ended last week, will likely keep South
Africa's economic growth depressed below 2 percent this year.
Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South
Africa (NUMSA) are due to down tools on Tuesday after last-gasp
wage talks failed to yield a deal.
South Africa's largest union said on Monday workers would
march in several cities including the commercial capital
Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
NUMSA will also picket the headquarters of power utility
Eskom on Wednesday to press for a wage increase of 12 percent,
nearly double the current inflation rate.
Eskom produces the bulk of electricity in Africa's most
developed economy and is deemed an essential service, making
But NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim hinted at the weekend
that workers would defy the ban, saying the union might have "no
option but to allow our members to liberate themselves".
The strike will likely hit the operations of companies like
constructing and engineering firms Murray & Roberts
and Aveng Ltd , both involved in building two crucial
power stations for Eskom.
FRESH BLOW TO ECONOMY
Auto parts makers such as Dorbyl Ltd , Africa's
biggest packaging firm Nampak and power cables maker
Reunert could also be affected.
The total turnover of the metals and engineering sector in
South Africa is 335 billion rand $32 billion), according to the
Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa.
The looming boycott is a fresh blow for the economy, which
lurched into a contraction in the first quarter after a
five-month platinum strike hit mining output. Mining contributes
5 percent to gross domestic product.
Steel and metals manufacturing directly accounts for about a
fifth of the factory sector, and the impact of NUMSA action will
probably be stronger than that of the platinum strike, Barclays
Africa said in a note.
NUMSA, once a political ally of the ruling African National
Congress, fell out with President Jacob Zuma's government over
policy differences last year.
The union has around 340,000 members, although only around
two-thirds of these are planning to go on strike.
($1 = 10.6304 South African Rand)
(Reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa and Tiisetso Motsoeneng;
Editing by Tom Heneghan)