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Northam strike on Monday

Northam platinum
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 02 September 2010 – The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says that more than 8 000 workers at Northam Platinum will be going on a pay strike on Monday, and that new wage talks at Rio Tinto/BHP Billiton’s Richards Bay Minerals joint venture have collapsed.

The NUM said in a statement here that workers had voted overwhelmingly for a strike, and that it represented about 7 000 of the over 8 000 workers who had voted for the action.

Northam, which produced 321 475 ounces of platinum group metals (PGMs) in the year to end-June, has offered workers an 8% increase on a two-year deal. The union is demanding a 15% wage rise.

“The strike begins on Monday, and we are going to cause havoc at Northam Platinum,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters. Northam was not immediately able to comment.

The union, which held fresh talks yesterday with Richards Bay Minerals, said the negotiations to try and end a strike at the mine had collapsed after the company had declined to raise its wage offer above 8%.

“For now the war is on against Richards Bay Minerals,” NUM regional coordinator in KwaZulu-Natal Bhekani Ngcobo said in a statement. Richards Bay Minerals officials were not immediately available to comment.

The NUM is demanding 10% pay rise in a one-year deal while the Rio Tinto-BHP Billiton JV is offering 8% in a three-year deal.

The union has also commenced fresh negotiations with diversified miner Exxaro aimed at ending a strike which started at the company’s mineral sands unit ten days ago.

The union is demanding a 14% pay rise, but Exxaro is offering only 8%.