Miners at work
– but strikes are
on the cards
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 27 March 2009 – South Africa’s biggest labour union – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – has revealed that it intends submitting pay demands to the country’s gold and coal producers in early April ahead of forthcoming wage negotiations, with workers likely to seek gains above the rate of inflation.

“We will submit our mandate early next month,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka, told Bloomberg News in a mobile phone interview. “From what I can see so far, they’re looking at something bigger than inflation.”

South Africa is the world’s third-largest gold producer and the biggest source of coal for European power plants. Inflation in the country rose to 8.6% in February – the first increase in six months. The NUM – with about 320 000 members last year – is the largest union in Africa, and among the five biggest in the world, according to Seshoka.

South Africa’s Chamber of Mines will negotiate pay increases with unions on behalf of producers. It also negotiates with other unions including Solidarity and the United Association of South Africa.

“Negotiations are going to be tough,” said AngloGold CEO Mark Cutifani.

“Gold is doing very well in terms of the price,” Seshoka said “and coal is also doing very well.” The rand price of gold has risen about 15% in the past year to about US$920 an ounce. On the coal front, state-run power utility Eskom Holdings Limited is looking to secure coal supply as it builds new plants and as current fuel sources are depleted.