HomeGoldGold mine workers may strike

Gold mine workers may strike

Jaco Kleynhans,
Spokesman, Solidarity
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 15 July 2009 – Workers in the South African gold sector have rejected the latest offer for a pay raise of between 8 and10%, and have vowed to escalate the dispute with gold producers soon, warning that they could strike if negotiations fail.

Three South African unions are holding talks with gold producers under the guidance of a mediator, after failing to agree on wage increases.

“The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has rejected the Chamber of Mines’ offer of between 8 and 10 percent from gold employers, and will escalate the dispute on 21 July,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said. The union “’South Africa’s biggest mineworkers’ body “’ warned that the increase might not be enough to avert a strike.

The Solidarity labour union said separately that it had also rejected a fresh offer for the workers it represented.

It said AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Rand Uranium had offered a wage increase of 8.5% for some workers, while Harmony had offered a wage increase of 6.5% and an additional boost linked to the price of gold.

The unions have now warned that the next round of negotiations on 21 July may be the last chance for the gold firms to prevent a strike. “We’ve said to them we see this now as the last opportunity. If there’s no improved offer by next Tuesday, we’ll ask for a strike certificate,” Solidarity spokesman Jaco Kleynhans told Reuters.

Mine workers, whose lowest-earning members earn R3 300 rand a month, have demanded a 15% pay rise, arguing that the price of gold is up despite the global economic downturn. But gold firms say they can’t afford the increase, which is nearly twice South Africa’s consumer inflation of 8%.