Tags: gold | mines | strike | labor

South Africa Unions Hold Back Gold-Mining Strike for Revised Offer

Monday, 26 Aug 2013 10:10 AM

Two of four South African unions representing labor at wage talks with gold producers are holding out for a revised offer by the companies before deciding on whether to declare a strike.

The National Union of Mineworkers, which represents 64 percent of employees negotiating with seven gold companies through the Chamber of Mines, and minority union UASA have yet to decide on pursuing a work stoppage after being given permission to strike by a mediator on Aug. 21.

“I’m going back to see if there’s any offer on the table,” Franz Stehring, head of mining at UASA, said in a phone interview. The union is “still carrying on with strike ballot,” he said.

The chamber, representing companies including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., the world’s third-largest producer, Gold Fields Ltd., Harmony Gold Mining Co. and Sibanye Gold Ltd., raised its offer on Aug. 13 to 5.5 percent with additional compensation and to 6 percent in some job categories on Aug. 21. The NUM has asked for a 60 percent increase in wages for entry-level jobs. South Africa’s annual inflation rate was 6.3 percent in July. Strikes could cost the gold industry 349 million rand ($34 million) a day in revenue, according to the chamber.

Negotiations over wages stalled on July 24 after the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and UASA rejected the initial offer of a 5 percent pay increase and a housing-related allowance.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and Solidarity, the other unions representing labor, will today again meet with employers.

AMCU Dispute

The chamber declared a dispute with the AMCU on July 29, and referred the matter to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration for resolution. The commission engages the sides for a period that can last as long as 30 days.

The NUM will give the companies until Aug. 31 to increase their wage offer before deciding whether to go on strike, spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said yesterday.

Solidarity, which wants a 10 percent increase for workers, is holding out for a final offer from employers this week, the union’s general secretary Gideon du Plessis said at a conference in Johannesburg today. UASA proposed a raise of 18 percent for miners, while the AMCU wants basic wages to be more than doubled to 12,500 rand a month.

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