* Transport strike enters second week
* Talks to end strike fail even after unions cut pay demand
JOHANNESBURG, May 18 South Africa's government
and industry leaders urged striking transport workers to resolve
a wage dispute that has crippled port and rail operations in
Africa's biggest economy and stranded millions of commuters.
The strike, now in its second week, has dented exports of
metals, fruit and wine to Europe and Asia and slowed imports of
automotive parts after nearly two-thirds of logistic group
Transnet's 54,000-strong workforce joined in.
"The strike will definitely continue at Metrorail and
Transnent and there are definitely no talks scheduled with
Transnet," Chris de Vos, general-secretary at the United
Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu), said on Tuesday.
Utatu and the South African Transport and Allied Workers
Union (Satawu), which represent 85 percent of Transnet's
workforce, want at least a 12 percent pay rise, while
state-owned Transnet says it cannot afford more than 11 percent.
So far fuel supplies in South Africa and coal shipments to
Europe and Asia have not been disrupted, officials said.
The strike is the latest protest in the country ahead of
next month's soccer World Cup, and FIFA said imports of some
equipment for the event have been affected.
The Department of Public Enterprises, which oversees
Transnet, said it was concerned about the impact of a protracted
strike on the economy.
The South African Chamber of Commerce said some 25 percent
of the country's workforce was being denied access to passenger
Anglo American Plc's (AAL.L) iron ore unit in South Africa
declared force majeure on shipments last week, joining other
global metal exporters including Xstrata XTA.L, which said it
could not supply ferrochrome to its customers. [ID:nLDE64B2B7]
"It is also disturbing that some shipping lines have
diverted vessels from Durban resulting in imports and exports
being seriously delayed and orders being cancelled," the chamber
Economists estimated the impact in the hundreds of millions
of rand, but said it would quickly rise to billions as the
industrial action drags on into this week.
Analysts and the central bank have criticised the unions,
saying pay rises well above the 5.1 percent inflation rate would
slow South Africa's economic recovery.
On Monday, Utatu and Satawu also began a strike at South
Africa's Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa), halting all commuter
rail operations although separate talks were being held to
resolve this dispute, de Vos said.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak)