Workers Reject South Africa Gold Mines’ Pay Plan, Union Says

Members of South Africa’s biggest union rejected a proposal by gold producers to raise wages in a bid to end a wave of strikes, as Anglo American Plc said a platinum worker was killed at a site disrupted by stoppages.

Employees who belong to the National Union of Mineworkers didn’t accept the offer, spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said in a text message in response to a query today.

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd. had offered an additional 2 percent increase on top of an earlier agreement, and Harmony Gold Mining Co. 1.5 percent, Elize Strydom, chief negotiator at the Chamber of Mines, which represents the companies in wage talks, said yesterday. The entry-level worker category would be eliminated in the proposal, meaning the lowest-paid miners would move up to the next band.

About 41 percent of South Africa’s gold output is idled, including all of AngloGold’s mines. Two Gold Fields sites were halted after workers walked out without heeding resolution procedures set out by labor laws, while miners have been absent from Harmony’s Kusasalethu operation since at least Oct. 3.

President Jacob Zuma said the mining strikes are having a “significant” impact on an economy already struggling to cope with Europe’s debt crisis. The National Treasury estimates that total production lost in platinum and gold mining as of the middle of September was about 4.5 billion rand ($518 million), with 118 million rand lost in coal, Zuma said in a speech to black businessmen in Johannesburg today.

Offer Extended

The mines chamber has extended the offer, which was to expire today, until Oct. 15, when the parties will meet again, Strydom said after meeting with union representatives. The proposals haven’t changed.

Gold advanced 0.4 percent to $1,770.15 an ounce by 6:08 p.m. in London.

Village Main Reef Ltd., a gold producer where most of the 1,700 workers who are NUM members have been on an unofficial strike since Sept. 27 at its Blyvoor operation, gave workers a second ultimatum to report for duty, it said in a statement. Blyvoor’s output “will be negatively affected during the December quarter as a result of continued illegal strike action,” it said.

Most of Anglo American’s platinum mines and its Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. unit’s Sishen iron-ore complex are also shut because of strikes. Talks to end the strike at Sishen have failed, the NUM and the Congress of South African Trade Unions said today in an e-mailed statement. Kumba has appointed an outside mediator.

Burning Taxis

Xstrata Plc’s Eland platinum mine and Samancor Ltd.’s chrome operations have been disrupted as workers seek more pay.

A man was burned alive and another suffered a gunshot wound when around 400 people held an illegal gathering near Anglo’s Bathopele platinum operation at Nkaneng near Rustenburg, police spokesman Dennis Adriao said by phone.

“We think the crowd are burning taxis so as to stop miners from entering the mine and going to work,” he said.

Anglo American said in a statement an Anglo American Platinum Ltd. employee was murdered on his way to work at a tailings re-treatment plant. The company on Oct. 5 fired 12,000 workers for participating in unofficial strike.

Police dispersed a group blocking a road to Gold One International Ltd.’s Ezulwini mine yesterday, Grant Stuart, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail today. The 1,435 workers fired at the site, which was calm today, have until tomorrow to appeal their termination, he said.