South Africa’s NUM Union Plans to Strike at Coal Mines Over Pay

  • Union to apply for strike certificate, timing to be decided
  • Companies offered 5.5%-8.5% increase, workers want 12%-13%

The biggest union in South Africa’s coal industry plans to strike at the local operations of Glencore Plc, Anglo American Plc and Exxaro Resources Ltd. after wage talks collapsed.

“We have an intention to strike,” Peter Bailey, the National Union of Mineworkers’ chief negotiator for coal. said by phone Wednesday. "It’s just about when we give the notification to strike."

The union rejected the companies’ latest offer to raise basic salaries for the lowest-paid worker categories by a range of 5.5 percent to 8.5 percent, he said. The NUM wants an increases of 12 percent to 13 percent. The inflation rate was 4.6 percent in August.

Talks were being handled by the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, an independent statutory body set up to resolve labor disputes. The CCMA issued NUM with a certificate of non-resolution. The union must now give the companies 48 hours’ notice before they strike. The NUM has yet to decide when it will give notice and commence the strike, Bailey said.

South Africa’s coal-mining industry directly employs almost 90,000 people and paid about 19 billion rand ($1.4 billion) in wages in 2014, according to the Chamber of Mines, which represents producers. Prices for coal delivered to northwest Europe dropped 26 percent this year and are at the lowest since at least 2007.

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