South African plastics sector on strike

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Thousands of South African plastics sector workers began a strike on Monday over pay and benefits, halting operations at some companies, the union and firms said.

Workers, represented by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), demand the same rights as those in the engineering sector represented by the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC).

NUMSA spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said grievances included a reduction in the minimum wage from R40 to R20 per hour, lack of bonuses and increased working hours without overtime pay.

Five unions, including NUMSA and the United Association of South Africa, collectively represent about 30,000 workers in the plastics sector. NUMSA represents 10,000.

The South African plastics industry employs about 60,000 workers in companies across different sectors including paper, packaging and textiles.

Swan Plastics, a Durban-based pipe manufacturing business, said operations were on hold. Other manufacturers said their operations were not affected.

Paper and plastics packaging maker Mpact was assessing the situation and could not provide a comment.

The National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA) and the Plastic Convertors Association of South Africa (PCSA) called for the strike to stop.

NEASA official Jaco Swart said a court challenge against the strike would be heard on Wednesday.