South African Union Said to Demand 15% Coal Pay Increase

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The South African labor union that represents the most workers in the coal-mining industry is demanding a pay increase of 15 percent for its members even as prices for the fuel have plummeted.

The National Union of Mineworkers, which has members at companies including Anglo American Plc, Glencore Plc and Exxaro Resources Ltd., submitted the demand for all worker categories, a copy of the document detailing the demands shows. South Africa’s annual inflation rate was 4.5 percent in April.

Labor unions in 2013 signed a two-year deal with the companies for increases of as much as 11 percent in the first year. Coal prices in Richards Bay, South Africa’s main export terminal for the fuel, have dropped more than 20 percent since the agreement. South Africa is the world’s seventh-largest producer.

The NUM also wants the minimum housing allowance raised to 8,000 rand ($676) a month, the document showed.

Solidarity, another union involved in the negotiations, has an opening demand of a 12 percent pay increase, it said last month. It also wants the retirement age to be raised to 65 to retain critical skills.

The coal-mining industry employs about 90,000 people and paid out almost 19 billion rand in wages last year, according to the Chamber of Mines, which represents most producers in the country.

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