A total of 245 workers at Dunlop Belting Products in Howick were dismissed after striking for about six weeks in KwaZulu-Natal, their union said on Tuesday.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said the dismissals by Dunlop bosses undermined the workers' right to strike.
Provincial regional secretary Mbuso Ngubane said the workers were dismissed on Friday after negotiations with the employer reached a deadlock.
They had been on strike since August 22, demanding an increase in salaries and to have their benefits reinstated.
Initially the workers wanted a 10 percent raise with four weeks bonus pay. The employer offered five percent with no bonus.
The workers later lowered their demand to a 6.7 percent salary increase with four weeks bonus pay, but the employer offered only 5.7 percent with no bonus, Ngubane said.
He said the workers were demanding the salary they had enjoyed before the global recession in 2009.
“When the company was under financial strain the employer cut salaries and reduced the workers' provident fund so workers could keep their jobs.”
Ngubane said the workers' demands were fair considering the cost of living and socio-economic hardships.
“We refuse to conform to the capitalist market embedded strategy of profit maximisation whilst our members are economically bleeding and feeling the pinch as a result of the high cost of living and burden imposed on them by the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequalities.”
Ngubane called on Dunlop Belting Products' bosses to return to the negotiating table to end the prolonged strike.
He said the union was working on getting a permit to march in Howick.
Numsa said it would work with its legal team to get the workers reinstated.
Dunlop Belting Products produces rubber for the mining industry, and has no links to Dunlop Tyres.
Comment from Dunlop Belting Products could not be immediately obtained. - Sapa