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NUM wants strikers to return to work

Oupa Komane, Deputy
Secretary General, NUM
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 07 September 2009 – The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) “’ South Africa’s biggest miners’ union “’ says it is trying to persuade strikers at Impala Platinum to return to work, while fresh talks at Anglo Platinum are underway in a bid to agree a pay deal.
The NUM tried to allay concerns of a sector-wide strike, saying it was confident of reaching a deal with Anglo Platinum “’ the number one producer of the precious metal “’ and said a pay strike at Impala Platinum “’ the world’s No. 2 platinum producer “’ was futile because the company was unlikely to raise its current pay offer.

The strike at Impala’s biggest mine entered its third week today, and the company said there was still no production at the mine, Rustenburg, which is now the only facility affected by the strike.

The NUM said it planned to meet some of the 20 000 striking workers today. “We can’t have an indefinite strike,” said Eddie Majadibodu, the chief negotiator for the NUM at Implats. “Management is not intending to increase its offer. It’s a matter of being reasonable.”

Implats, facing lower earnings and rising costs, has offered a 10% pay rise, saying it cannot afford the worker’s demand of a 14% pay increase, which is twice South Africa’s inflation of 6.7%. It pointed out that its peers in the gold, coal and power sectors have agreed to raise wages by about 10 percent.

Oupa Komane “’ the NUM’s deputy secretary general “’ said he hoped a fresh round of wage talks at Angloplat would bear fruit. “I want to try and secure an attractive package “’ we are not far apart from each other. At this point we do not consider a strike as an option,” he added.

Reuters reports that a sector-wide strike in the platinum industry could ruffle markets and the metal’s price, while above-inflation pay settlements have led to worries about the ability of firms hit by the economic downturn to lift Africa’s biggest economy out of its first recession in 17 years.