The BHP Billiton
aluminium smelter “’
workers on strike
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 09 December 2010 – Hundreds of workers at BHP Billiton’s aluminium smelter in South Africa have gone on strike demanding better wages and changes in working conditions.

National Union of Metalworkers spokesman Mbuso Ngubane revealed here that about 600 workers had downed tools at BHP’s Billiton Hillside aluminium smelter at Richards Bay, in KwaZulu Natal, after talks with management had failed.

The workers were demanding a 12% hike in wages across the board, and a 50% employer contribution to a medical aid scheme, among other things. The union said it had been in talks with management since April this year.

Questions e-mailed to the company by Reuters about production levels at the unit, and whether the strike was affecting them, were not immediately answered.

Ngubane said management was expected to meet the union later. “We are going with an open mind, hopefully we may have an agreement by Thursday,” he added.