Bloodshed Seen If Strike Called at South African Gold Mines – by Paul Burkhardt (Blooomberg News – July 22, 2015)

A pay strike at South African gold companies could result in more violence at the mines, said Andrew Levy, a labor-relations consultant.

The Chamber of Mines, a lobby group representing companies including world No. 3 producer AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., and the four unions representing workers are “far apart” in wage talks, it said July 16. The labor groups are seeking an increase of at least 80 percent in entry-level pay and producers are offering 13 percent at most.

“I think there will be a strike,” most likely led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which speaks for about 30 percent of the employees, Levy said. If operations continue with AMCU on strike, “there will be bodies and there will be bloodshed,” he said.

South African gold producers are looking to avoid a repeat of a strike that crippled platinum companies in the country last year, halting most local mines of the world’s three-biggest operators for five months. They also want to avert violence that resulted in at least 44 deaths around Lonmin Plc’s Marikana platinum assets in 2012.

The National Union of Mineworkers represents 52 percent of the 95,000 employees at companies the chamber speaks for, including Sibanye Gold Ltd. and Harmony Gold Mining Co. Both the NUM and the AMCU have lost members to violence at platinum mines, where the AMCU has displaced the NUM as the biggest representative of miners.

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