South Africa Sugar Workers Agree Wage Offer to End 11-Day Strike

About 5,500 sugar workers in South Africa agreed to wage increases of as much as 10 percent, ending the first industrywide stoppage for 17 years.

Employers will raise salaries for the lowest-earning employees by 10 percent while the middle and higher band of earners will receive increases of 9 percent and 8.75 percent respectively, Food and Allied Workers Union General Secretary Katishi Masemola said by phone today.

“From Monday, we expect workers to start flowing back to work,” he said.

The strike, which also involved two other unions, began on May 27 with employees requesting an 11 percent increase, while the companies including Illovo Sugar Ltd. and Tongaat Hulett Ltd., Africa’s two biggest producers, were offering 8.5 percent. Inflation was 6.1 percent in April, according to Statistics South Africa. The strike was protected by South Africa’s laws, meaning workers cannot be fired.

The final wage agreement was brokered by the country’s government-sponsored Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

“This is further evidence of the CCMA’s unflinching commitment to pursue mediated settlements in the interests of the country,” CCMA director Nerine Kahn said in a statement.

South Africa’s longest and most costly mining strike, which began Jan. 23 and involves 70,000 platinum employees, is continuing after CCMA-brokered talks failed earlier this year.

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