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Kumba tries to avoid strike

View of Kumba’s
flagship project
– the Sishen mine
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 27 September 2010 – Kumba Iron Ore Limited “’ the fourth largest supplier of seaborne iron ore in the world “’ says it is willing to hold fresh talks with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which plans to go on strike next week after pay rise talks collapsed.

The NUM said earlier that over 6 000 workers at Kumba “’ a unit of global miner Anglo American “’ would go on strike after rejecting the company’s offer of wage increases of between 7  and 9.5% on a two-year deal, depending on the worker’s category. The NUM is demanding pay rises of between 7.5 and 10% on a one-year deal.

“Our doors are always open for discussions,” Kumba spokesman Gert Schoeman said when asked if the company would seek fresh talks to avert a strike.

“The decision to go on strike at Kumba has been taken, and a seven-day notice was served confirming that the strike would begin next Monday,” said NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.

But Schoeman claimed that Kumba had not received a formal notice from the NUM.

The union said it would press ahead with strike plans despite a possibility of new wage negotiations. “A strike cannot be averted on the basis that there may be talks. We cannot rely on just an indication,” Seshoka added. The union said last week the strike would affect Kumba’s Sishen, Kolomela and Thabazimbi operations.

Meanwhile, the strike at Northam Platinum has entered its fourth week after the workers rejected the company’s revised wage offer last week.

About 80% of Northam’s 6 800 employees at its Zondereinde mine have been on strike since 5 September, shutting down the entire operation and costing Northam 1 000 ounces a day in lost production of platinum group metals (PGMs).

Northam raised its offer to 9% last week from 8.5%, but the NUM is demanding 15%.