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Wage fight sets South Africa on course for engineering strike

CAPE TOWN, July 7 (Reuters) - South Africa's metalworkers union said on Friday it has requested a certificate to strike in the engineering sector after wage hike talks deadlocked, and expects a decision by 15 July.

The union -- the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, or NUMSA, -- wants wage hikes of 15 percent across-the-board in the metal and engineering sectors on the actual rate workers are earning and not on the minimum rate.

In line with government's recent minimum wage deal with rival union federation Cosatu, employers were offering 20 rand ($1.48) an hour for new entrants, while the current minimum rate was double that, NUMSA said.

"We will fight to block the greedy employers from implementing this poverty wage. We have requested a certificate of non-resolution which will allow us to go on strike," NUMSA, the largest union in the manufacturing sector, said in a statement.

Their demands are almost triple the current inflation rate of 5.3 percent and come against the backdrop of an economy mired in recession with the unemployment rate at a 14-year high. ($1 = 13.4800 rand) (Reporting by Wendell Roelf Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)