South Africa’s Biggest Union for Coal Rejects Latest Pay Offer

The National Union of Mineworkers, South Africa’s largest labor group at coal mines, rejected the latest pay offer by companies including Anglo American Plc, Glencore Plc and Exxaro Resources Ltd.

“It looks like a dispute might be on the cards today depending on the Chamber of Mines’s response,” the union said in an e-mailed statement. The offer of increases of as much as 6.5 percent “has been rejected by our members,” it said.

South Africa’s coal-mining industry directly employs almost 90,000 people and paid about 19 billion rand ($1.5 billion) in wages in 2014, according to the Chamber of Mines, a lobby representing the companies. The talks are taking place as prices for coal delivered to northwest Europe dropped 17 percent this year.

The NUM said producers refused to respond to a demand of 3,000 rand for lower job categories. Companies last week proposed a three-year agreement with pay increases ranging from 4 percent to 6.5 percent.

Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for the chamber, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.