Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 10 December 2010 – Mining giant BHP Billiton has raised its wage offer for striking workers at the Hillside aluminium smelter in South Africa to 8.5%, a National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) spokesman has revealed.
About 600 workers at BHP’s Billiton Hillside aluminium smelter at Richards Bay, in KwaZulu Natal, downed tools on Wednesday, after talks with management on wages and changes in work conditions had failed. The company had initially offered the employees a 7.5% pay rise.
“The employer wants a four-year contract with an 8.5% increase in the first year, and the last three years will be inflation plus 2%,” said NUMSA spokesman Mbuso Ngubane.
Questions on the new offer sent by email to the company were not immediately answered.
BHP Billiton said on Wednesday that some 70% of the employees at the unit, who are not NUMSA members, had accepted the 7.5% pay rise offer.
The company also said it had put in place contingency plans to maintain production at the unit. Hillside, with annual capacity of around 700 000 tonnes, is South Africa’s main producer of aluminium.
Ngubane said the strike at the aluminium unit would continue and the union could consult its members today to consider the company’s new offer.