South African Gold Miners Set for Strike Later Today
(Corrects spelling of Zuma in fifth paragraph.)
South African gold producers are braced for a strike later today when 90,000 National Union of Mineworkers members are due to join 120,000 workers who have downed tools in other parts of the continent’s largest economy.
“Talks have continued with the unions, but we’re still anticipating a strike by the NUM,” Charmane Russell, an external spokeswoman for the country’s Chamber of Mines at Russell & Associates, said today by phone from Johannesburg.
The strike is expected to start at 6 p.m., as night shifts commence, Lesiba Seshoka, an NUM spokesman, said by mobile phone.
Members of the NUM, which represents 64 percent of employees, will stop working after the chamber failed to meet demands for wage increases of as much as 60 percent for entry level workers. The chamber, which represents members including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (ANG) and Sibanye Gold Ltd. (SGL), has made a final offer to boost pay by 6 percent to 6.5 percent for about 142,000 workers.
Strikes cut 0.5 percentage point off gross domestic product last year, when at least 44 people, including 34 killed by police in one day, died near the operations of Lonmin Plc (LMI), the third-largest platinum producer. Stoppages have already shaved 30 basis points, or 0.3 percentage point, off GDP this year, President Jacob Zuma said on June 13.
The South African Police Service is “fully prepared to maintain stability in the country and to ensure that safety prevails during any intended strike action,” SAPS spokesman Solomon Makgale said yesterday in an e-mailed response to questions.
About 30,000 workers at plants operated by car manufacturers including Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Volkswagen AG (VOW) have been on strike since Aug. 19, while 90,000 employees at building companies have stopped work.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which represents 17 percent of gold miners at the pay talks, hasn’t accepted the producers’ wage offer, or indicated whether it will strike, Russell said.
AMCU members will report for duty, union President Joseph Mathunjwa said in a phone interview today. “There’s still an avenue, we’re still open to negotiation,” Mathunjwa said.
The AMCU is the biggest union at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng, Sibanye Gold’s Driefontein and Harmony Gold Mining Co.’s Kusasalethu operations. All three are close to Carletonville, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Johannesburg.
Trade union UASA, which represents 6.9 percent of workers, on Aug. 30 accepted the chamber’s offer, Russell said.
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