Strike at Mercedes-Benz site in South Africa ends after 2 days

Article by Anita Panait, on May 21, 2013

Workers at Mercedes-Benz's East London site in South Africa have stopped their two-day strike following crisis talks between management and the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA). According to local reports, workers at the plant commenced their strike on May 27, 2013 after the company decided to probe into stoppages in its paint shop earlier this month.

NUMSA is demanding a 20-percent pay increase for the sector, which may give rise to another manufacturing unrest in the country. Mphumzi Maqungo, national treasurer for NUMSA, told Reuters that if their demands are not met, they have no option but to “go to the streets."

The South African rand dropped to a four-year low against the dollar on May 20, 2013, after Mercedes confirmed that the strike affected production at its East London site.

South Africa’s currency had been under pressure amid worries that labor conflict and hefty wage demands in the gold and coal mining sectors could stifle the country’s economic growth.

Analysts see the swift resolution of the strike as positive for the South African economy and currency, which has depreciated 10 percent against the dollar this year. However, the biggest concern in the country is a possible outbreak of a major turmoil in the mines, where a union turf war lead into violence in 2012, resulting to the death of around 50 people.

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