Striking S.Africa truck drivers hold new wage talks

* Transport union says willing to compromise on demands

* Threat of truck driver strike spreading to rail, ports

* Fuel, consumer good, cash deliveries disrupted

By Agnieszka Flak

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 9 (Reuters) - South Africa's transportunion SATAWU and employers held wage talks on Tuesday trying toend a two-week-old truck driver strike that has hampereddeliveries of fuel, cash and consumer goods in the continent'sbiggest economy.

The truckers have asked for sympathy strikes by port andrail workers. If paralysis spreads in the transport sector, itwould be a further deterioration in investor sentiment that haspushed the rand to 3-1/2 year lows against the dollar.

Large parts of the mining sector have been brought to astandstill in the last two months by wildcat labour unrest bymore than 75,000 miners - about 15 percent of its work force.

Almost 50 people have been killed in the current labourstrife - 34 of them by shot dead by police on Aug. 16 in thedeadliest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994.

President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress hasbeen criticised for letting the strikes spiral. Moody's ratingsagency downgraded South African government bonds a notch lastmonth, saying ineffectual governance was posing long termeconomic risk.

More than 20,000 striking truck drivers have taken to thestreets in often violent protests, demanding annual wageincreases of 12 percent for two years - more than double theinflation rate. Employers have offered a total 18 percent payrise over that same period.

"We are willing to compromise on our demands, but only aslong as the employers do the same," said Vincent Masoga,spokesman for the South African Transport & Allied Workers'Union.

An employers body said last week the freight industry waslosing around 1.2 billion rand ($135 million) in turnover eachweek due to the strike.

Affected companies include logistics groups Imperial Holding, Super Group , Grindrod , Barloworld

and Bidvest . If the protests expand to railand ports, they would hit exports of coal and other minerals.

The mining strikes look set to knock already shaky economicgrowth in the world's top platinum-producing state. South Africais also a major supplier of gold, coal and iron ore.

Local media reports suggested the truckers strike was alsohaving adverse effects on Zimbabwe, which receives a steadysupply of goods over road from its larger neighbour.

On Monday, a local government workers' union said it alsoplanned a protest in the next few days in a first sign of thelabour unrest spreading into the public sector.($1 = 8.8828 South African rand)

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Jon Herskovitz)

((agnieszka.flak@thomsonreuters.com)(+27 11 775 3154)(ReutersMessaging: agnieszka.flak.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


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