Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 31 August 2010 – Diversified miner Exxaro says it is planning new talks with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to try and end the strike at its mineral sands plant, while the Rio Tinto-BHP Billiton titanium joint venture has been compelled to shut operations because of strike action.
In a statement issued here, Exxaro said it would, however, maintain an offer for an 8% pay rise that NUM had rejected, describing the offer as reasonable and above the rate of inflation.
The NUM, which began the strike at Exxaro’s mineral sands unit a week ago, is demanding a 14% pay rise.
Exxaro said fresh talks would be held tomorrow under a conciliator. “Exxaro believes that a strike is not the way to settle the issue, which can rather be resolved by means of constructive engagement,” the company’s spokesman said in an email to Reuters.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said earlier that the union would soon decide on whether to expand the strikes at Exxaro and Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), the Rio Tinto-BHP Billiton joint venture, to include other facilities owned by the companies.
“A decision might be taken by tomorrow as to when a national strike at the companies begins,” he added. The strike began on Friday.
"We still have a 100 percent closure," Seshoka told Reuters, referring to RBM operations. “There is no date for any talks. The strike will continue,” Seshoka said.
RBM general manager for human resources Bheki Gumbi said some units were still operating, and that there had not been a total shutdown of the facility. “We are carrying on with some of the production areas,” Gumbi said, declining to give any details. Gumbi said the union had a total of 586 members at the operation, while the NUM has claimed to represent 1 700 workers at RBM.
The NUM is demanding a 10% rise in a one-year deal, while RBM is offering 8% in a three-year deal.