S. Africa’s NUM Union Plans March Today to Sibanye Over Wages

The National Union of Mineworkers is planning to march to the offices of Sibanye Gold Ltd., South Africa’s second-biggest producer, to demand higher wages.

“The march is to send a strong message,” Lesiba Seshoka, a spokesman for the NUM, said in a phone interview. “There will be strikes throughout the gold sector” if demands are not addressed, he said.

South African unions including the NUM, Solidarity and UASA declared a deadlock in wage negotiations on July 24 after gold producers represented by the Chamber of Mines raised their offer one percentage point. Mediation at the country’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration is expected to last about 30 days.

The NUM represents as much as 65 percent of the workforce at Sibanye, James Wellsted, a company spokesman, said in a phone interview. “We’ll continue to proceed with negotiations through the Chamber of Mines.”

About 60 percent of gold-mining operations in South Africa, the sixth-biggest producer, are unprofitable, the chamber said July 15.

Sibanye Gold will wait for wage talks to be completed before deciding on an interim dividend, Chief Executive Officer Neal Froneman said yesterday in an interview. “Wage negotiations will be concluded quite quickly; the industry has very little place to move and I think there is very little appetite for strikes.”

The union also plans to march and deliver a memorandum today at Exxaro Resources Ltd.’s Arnot coal mine over the company’s bonus payment system.

The NUM may rally at the offices of Harmony Gold Mining Co. next week, Seshoka said.

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