South African miners
“’ their wage dispute
could be over today
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 28 July 2009 – There is a good chance a two-year wage deal will be signed for the South African gold and coal industries today.

Reporting from here, Miningmx quoted the Chamber of Mines of South Africa as saying: “There is a good possibility that both the gold and coal mining sectors will each sign their respective 2009 wage agreement with the labour unions tomorrow (Tuesday).” This would bring to a close two months of wage talks between the unions and some of South Africa’s largest resources companies, including AngloGold Ashanti and Anglo Coal.

Trade unions said they were considering the latest offer from gold and coal firms and were due to consult with the chamber today. “It is too early to say safely whether or not our members will accept the latest wage offers,” National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka told Miningmx.

NUM was tallying the results of its consultations with members, and said it expected to have an idea of what its members had decided by late last night, he said. “These have been the longest wage talks I have seen in many years,” Seshoka added.

Gold miners have extended an offer of 9% for miners, artisans and officials, and an increase of 10% for category 4-8 employees for the first year, as well as an inflation-linked increase plus 1% for 2010.

Offers from the coal industry vary across the board, but the large coal companies have agreed to offer 9% for miners, artisans and officials, 10% for category 5-8 employees and 11% for entry level 4 employees.

The unions had started talks with a demand for a 15% wage hike and a number of other benefits. The industry is grappling with high costs like electricity and a volatile rand, and wages make up half of mines’ costs.

Trade union Solidarity said the wage talks had been tough but fruitful. “The current offer is favourable and above inflation. An agreement is within reach,” Solidarity spokesperson Ilze Nieuwoudt said.

The chamber represented AngloGold, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold in these talks “’ the country’s three largest gold producers. It also represented the major coal producers, including BHP Billiton.