JOHANNESBURG, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Workers in South Africa’s motor and gold industries will return to work this week after strikes that have crippled operations at some of the country’s biggest producers were resolved on Sunday.
Prolonged labour disputes in the two key exporting industries had threatened to compound the woes of Africa’s largest economy, still reeling from last year’s violent strikes in mining and continuing problems in the platinum sector.
“We are calling off the strike so workers can return on Monday,” the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s (NUMSA) deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said on Sunday.
The dispute over pay affected more than 30,000 assembly line workers at major carmakers in South Africa, including Toyota , Ford, General Motors and Nissan.
Cloete said the union recommended workers accept an increase of 11.5 percent for this year and 10 percent in each of the next two years.
Separately, Harmony Gold Mining said employees striking at its operations had agreed to an offer that would hopefully see them return to work as of Sunday night.
This brings to an end the gold industry strike which started on Tuesday night. Workers at other gold majors like AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye Gold returned to work on Friday after accepting the industry offer of an increase of between 7.5 and 8 percent.
“Harmony increased its offer in respect of wages and benefits in line with other producers, in the interests of long-term industrial relations stability, safety and security in the sector, and on condition that employees returned to work,” Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs said in a statement.
But smaller strikes are still threatened. Petrol station and car dealership workers plan to stay away from work on Monday.
In the gold industry, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) decided on Sunday to press ahead with plans to halt several operations should bullion producers not give in to calls for a doubling of wages.
A strike by AMCU, while not as extensive as last week’s strike called by its rival the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), will hit some of country’s biggest mines.
AMCU wants basic pay hiked by at least 150 percent to 12,500 rand ($1,200) while the NUM settled for increases of between 7.5 and 8 percent.
The three-day strike called by the NUM last week was peaceful in contrast to the illegal stoppages in 2012, when a violent turf war between the NUM and AMCU erupted.
In the last 18 months more than 60 people have lost their lives in union clashes.