* Union plans protest marches, picketing
* NUMSA rejected latest pay offer on Sunday
* Strike has forced Toyota, GM, Ford to halt production
(changes dateline, adds details)
CAPE TOWN, July 16 South Africa's main
manufacturing union, NUMSA, said it has agreed a plan of action
to intensify a three-week strike over pay that has hit car
makers and construction companies.
Around 220,000 workers have downed tools in demand of a
double-digit wage increase, a blow to Africa's most advanced
economy as it struggles to avoid recession and is still
recovering from a crippling five-month strike in the platinum
sector, which ended in June.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA)
rejected a pay offer from employers on Sunday and said on
Wednesday that it would immediately start mobilising workers for
protest marches across the country. It also plans to hold
lunch-time pickets and demonstrations in the auto, rubber, tyre
and power sectors.
"The National Strike Committee ... has developed a maximum
programme of action to intensify and accelerate the strike
action," NUMSA said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, employers in the metals and engineering sector
withdrew their offer of a 10 percent annual wage increase this
year, 9.5 percent in 2015 and 9 percent the following year,
after NUMSA rejected it.
The strike has disrupted the supply of components to
automobile makers, pushing Toyota, General Motors
and Ford to halt production at their assembly
plants in South Africa.
Workers participating in the strike also include those from
construction companies developing a new state coal-fired power
station, Medupi, as well as workers from packaging company
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, however, said on
Wednesday that the strike would not affect the start of
operations at the power station, which is slated for December.
As well as wage increases, the strike is also about labour
issues, including third-party hiring and contract workers, and
NUMSA also wants any deal to be limited to one year while
employers, who said they would take their fight to the
bargaining council, are keen to lock in a multi-year agreement.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Susan Fenton)