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South Africa hit by engineering strike

Engineering and metal workers in South Africa have gone on strike after talks on Monday failed to reach an agreement over pay.

The country’s largest union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), claims that more than 200,000 members are striking.

The union is demanding a 12% wage increase, almost double the rate of inflation.

So far employers have offered an 8% pay rise.

Marches have been taking place in six major cities across the country, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

A few thousand people were gathered at a rally in central Johannesburg, where they shouted slogans and danced.

“I’m striking because I’m working but I’m getting peanuts,” said one man.

“I’ve got 50 years of age, and I’ve got 30 years working at that company, and I’m earning 29 rand ($2.72) per hour, which is an insult to an old man like me”

One woman declared “No! We don’t want 8% or 10%, we want 12% or 15%! Because we’ve been struggling at the company we’ve been working at.”

Long list of demands

NUMSA also wants to receive a housing allowance of 1000 rand ($94;) a month.

The union’s secretary-general Irvin Jim has said it will not settle for less than a double-digit increase.

“We have a long list of demands that has been reduced because we have to be objective,” he told the BBC.

“Originally we had a mandate for demanding 15% [pay increase]… but we have reduced that to 12%”.

The union has about 340,000 members in total, but only around two-thirds were planning to go on strike.

Source – BBC