JOHANNESBURG, Aug 30 (Reuters) – South African gold miners plan to strike for higher pay from Tuesday, inflicting more damage on an industry that has produced a third of the bullion ever pulled from the earth but is now in rapid decline.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents almost two thirds of the country’s 120,000 goldmine workers, served the mining firms notice of the strike starting from Tuesday’s night shift, the companies said.
Negotiations broke down last week, with the unions and companies still poles apart over pay. The Chamber of Mines, which negotiates on behalf of the companies, said it made a final offer to increase basic wages by 6 to 6.5 percent. The NUM is seeking 60 percent and rival union AMCU wants as much as 150 percent. The companies say those demands are unrealistic, given rising costs and falling bullion prices.
In a sign of the industry’s frustration over the deepening crisis, Chamber of Mines president Mark Cutifani choked back tears on Thursday as he made an emotional appeal for an end to the violence and rounded on “thugs and murderers” he accused of stoking the unrest.