Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 20 August 2009 – The biggest South African miners’ union “’ the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) “’ says it will start an indefinite strike next week at Impala Platinum “’ the world’s No.2 platinum producer “’ over a wage dispute.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters that the union had rejected the company’s latest pay offer and would mobilise its members for the strike. “The strike could start on either Monday or Tuesday next week, and it would last until the issue is resolved,” he said.
Impala Platinum officials could not be reached for comment.
Seshoka said the parties had failed to agree on both the size of the pay rise and the duration of a new agreement.
He revealed that Impala Platinum had offered pay increases of between 9.5 and 10% to different categories of workers, while the union wanted a 10% rise for all workers. “We also disagreed on the duration of the deal. We want a one-year deal so that we can re-negotiate after one year when prices of platinum may have recovered, but they offered a two-year wage deal,” Seshoka added.
He said the mediating authority overseeing the talks had granted the union a certificate to strike after the breakdown of negotiations late yesterday. The union declared a dispute over pay in June, which meant the issue was referred to mediators, who were unable to broker an agreement.
Reuters reports that a strike at Impala Platinum could hurt broader investor sentiment as it follows a wave of industrial action in South Africa in the past few weeks that has led to above-inflation pay settlements.
The NUM called off a strike set for Thursday last week at state power firm Eskom that could have led to power cuts and further damage to Africa’s biggest economy. The parties said they had reached a pay deal.
Last month the NUM reached above-inflation settlements with gold- and coal-mining companies.