Unions said on Tuesday that they had agreed to a three-year wage deal for engineering workers, ending weeks of difficult negotiations and averting an industry strike.

Unions had threatened a strike in July after deadlocked talks over their demand for wage hikes of 15% across the board in the metal and engineering sectors.

They had now agreed to a deal that was expected to give workers a 7% increase in 2017, 6.75% in 2018 and 6.5% in 2019, said employers’ body the South African Engineers and Founders Association. It is a former affiliate of the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa), which represented employers in the talks.

The Solidarity union would only say that wage increases would be between 6.5 and 7%.

Solidarity and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, the two biggest unions involved in the talks, said they would sign the agreement with Seifsa on Wednesday.

"It gives a bit of clarity and stability for the next three years for the industry to work on in terms of input costs," said Solidarity deputy general secretary Marius Croucamp.

Consumer inflation is running at an annual rate of about 5.3%.


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