Johannesburg, South Africa — 23 July 2013 – The Chamber of Mines of South Africa has expressed the hope that the parties involved in coal industry wage negotiations will reach an agreement sooner rather than later.

“We hope that we can conduct these negotiations in a way which will ensure the continued sustainability of the South African coal mining companies,” Fin24 quoted chamber negotiator Motsamai Motlhamme as saying.

Talks on wages and conditions of service in the coal industry opened yesterday after a two-year standing agreement lapsed at the end of last month.

An offer of a 5.6% increase in wages was presented to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), United Association of SA (UASA) and Solidarity.

Solidarity expressed disappointment at the pay offer saying it fell short of the union’s 10% demand that applied to other benefits. “The housing and living-out allowance is a burning issue for Solidarity’s members and today’s offer regarding this issue is unacceptable,” union general secretary Gideon du Plessis said.

Du Plessis stressed that it was imperative that a negotiated settlement be reached as soon as possible to prevent disruptions in other sectors.

"The outcome of negotiations in the coal industry has a ripple effect on the electricity giant Eskom’s activities because of its interdependence on coal, he added.

Although the current offer was unsatisfactory, the union indicated that the chamber was eager to reach a settlement. It said the industry was experiencing greater financial and labour stability because of previous constructive negotiations.

“This offer compared to the 4% offer given to workers in the gold sector is a lot better. There are still inconsistencies that need to be sorted out regarding the housing allowance which has caused disparity in the industry.”

Du Plessis said the ball was back in the chamber’s court to present a revised offer at a meeting scheduled for August 2. UASA and the NUM were expected to attend the gathering.

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.