South Africa faces mining strike double whammy – by Sungula Nkabinde ( – August 14, 2015)

Disputes have been declared in both coal and the gold sector negotiations. Strikes will happen if no resolution is found.

South Africa should brace itself for strikes in the gold and coal mining sectors. The latter is arguably more important to the country given our current electricity situation, but it would be disastrous to have two sector-wide strikes running concurrently within the mining industry.

The gold wage negotiations have come to naught after the Associated Union of Mineworkers and Construction (AMCU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) rejected the gold producers’ final offer and, as a result, the producers have taken the offer off the table and deferred back to what they refer to as their initial ‘firm’ offer. On Thursday, after the final opportunity for voluntary mediation, the NUM has declared a dispute.

“The final offer that was on the table was an extremely generous offer and represented increases ranging from 9% to 18%, which is more than you would find anywhere else,” said Memory Johnstone, who spoke on behalf of the gold producers.

What is on the table now is an increase ranging from 7% to 13%, but a key difference between the two was that the former was a cash payout that was not linked to benefits (i.e. overtime, pension fund contributions), while the latter would be.

She added that the producers had stipulated from the onset that all the unions had to agree to the offer for it to be implemented but that did not come to fruition. While Solidarity and the United Associations of South Africa (UASA) were willing to accept the offer, with some minor adjustment, it will now depend on the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) process to avert strike action.

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