South African metalworkers returned to work today after labor groups agreed to a three-year wage deal, ending a four-week walkout that threatened growth in the continent’s second-biggest economy.
“Unionized employees who took part in the industrial action were back at work,” Lucas Maloka, a human resources executive at Richards Bay-based manufacturing company Bell Equipment Ltd. (BEL), said in e-mailed comments. Plans are now under way to restore lost production, he said. The majority of striking employees at Scaw Metals Group, 74 percent owned by South Africa’s Industrial Development Corp., also returned to their jobs, according to the company.
The walkout by more than 220,000 workers started on July 1 and cost the manufacturing and engineering industries about 300 million rand ($28 million) a day, according to the employers. The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa last week offered lowest earners a 10 percent annual wage increase for three years to end the strike, a deal that’s been accepted by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and smaller unions such as Solidarity.