[South Africa] Mine strikes, outages will add to misery – by Ntsakisi Maswanganyi (Business Day Live – April 10, 2015)


MINING production rose sharply while manufacturing fell in February compared with a year ago, according to Statistics SA data released on Thursday.

The trend has been attributed to low base effects. The two sectors make up a large share of gross domestic product and the latest data suggest economic growth got off to a slow start this year.

The Manufacturing Circle, which represents the majority of producers in SA, said the figures were concerning. Electricity outages and looming strikes in the public sector and gold mines would add more misery in coming months, Manufacturing Circle executive director Coenraad Bezuidenhout said.

A public servants’ strike would hit manufacturers through lower demand for products, Mr Bezuidenhout said. “And a strike at gold mining would be even more concerning because they supply to manufacturers,” he said.

Wage negotiations between unions representing about 1.3-million public servants and the government are subject to conciliation, while pay talks in the gold and coal sectors are expected to start next month.

The growth in mining production was mainly attributed to a low production base, which was created last year when workers at platinum mines went on a protracted strike.

Output could have been weak had it not been for the base-effect support.

Mining production rose 7.5% year on year in February from a 2.3% decline in January.

Manufacturing output declined 0.5%, which was better than the 2.4% contraction in January.

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