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S. African Coal Producers Raise Wage Offer to as Much as 11%

South African coal producers including Glencore Xstrata Plc increased their wage offers to workers to as much as 11 percent, which labor unions will present to their members.

Anglo American Plc’s thermal coal and Exxaro Resources Ltd. operations offered up to a 9.5 percent increase for some worker categories, while companies including Optimum Coal Holdings proposed a raise of 7.5 percent, according to a copy of the proposal e-mailed by the Solidarity union. Glencore offered as much as 11 percent.

“Given the specific circumstances at those companies, hopefully our members will accept,” Solidarity’s General Secretary Gideon du Plessis, said in a phone interview. The lower offer at some of the smaller companies is “a slight challenge,” he said.

Anglo American and Exxaro had offered 9 percent increases to entry-level workers and 8 percent for other categories, Du Plessis said Sept. 9. Gold companies this month reached a wage accord with all labor organizations except for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

“There is an improved offer,” Frans Baleni, secretary general of the National Union of Mineworkers, the largest union in the coal industry, said in a text message. “We’re taking it to members.”

There are seven companies with a total of 19,000 workers covered by negotiations through the Chamber of Mines. The NUM, UASA and Solidarity are representing miners at the talks.

The unions declared a dispute over wages on Aug. 12, prompting the impasse to be referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The parties agreed to continue discussions after the 30-day mediation process ended Sept. 12.

If the commission’s intervention fails to lead to an agreement, unions can request a certificate of non-resolution, clearing the way for them to issue a notice to companies of an authorized strike where workers are protected from dismissal.

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