Metal and engineering workers in South Africa, members of the left-wing National Union of Metal Workers (NUMSA), have been on indefinite strike over pay and conditions since 5 October. NUMSA is calling for an 8% wage rise for everyone in the first year of a deal, and inflation plus 2% in the following two years. Employers have offered 4.4%, then inflation plus 0.5% and inflation plus 1%.
NUMSA is South Africa's biggest union, with over 300,000 members.
The strike has already faced violence, including rubber bullets from the police and a striker killed by a car ploughing into a group of workers in Wadeville, near Johannesburg.
The SAFTU union federation of which NUMSA is part has threatened a general strike in response.
NUMSA accuses the bosses of aiming “to bring back apartheid wages where super-exploitation of black and African labour becomes the order of the day”. This is part of burgeoning inequality under a government based on the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party, and the country’s main union federation COSATU.
South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, was founding secretary of the country’s largest trade union, the National Union of Mineworkers. He is also rich to the tune of £300 million, and implicated in the murder of workers in previous strikes.
In 2019 NUMSA and other SAFTU unions were involved in the founding of a new Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party.