July 24, 2011

Coal miners strike amongst many others

Some 150.000 coal workers, employed at 20 companies across South Africa, are expected to down tools at 6pm on July 24, the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) has announced. Chamber of Mines spokesman Frans Barker said it had received a notice of intention to strike from the unions two days ago. Negotiations deadlocked a week ago, when the unions rejected the chamber's wage increase offer. The chamber - negotiating for companies including Anglo Thermal Coal SA, Delmas Coal, Exxaro, Kangra Coal, Optimum Coal and Xstrata Coal - offered a revised 8.5 percent wage increase for entry-level employees and seven percent for other employees, as opposed to the demanden 14 percent.
Besides, industrial action in the public service and the gold sector is also looming, after workers in the petroleum sector went on strike two weeks ago, leading to fuel shortages in parts of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo. The unions are demanding a wage increase of 11% to 13%, a total ban on labour brokers and a minimum wage of R6 000. It also wanted employers to address the number of working hours, the shift allowance, compassionate leave and maternity leave. Furthermore, metal-workers, have just ended their two-week strike after employers increased their wage offer to 10%.
Find below an overview of current strikes and results of consultations and negotiations:

Mining: On Friday July 22 the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at De Beers Consolidated Mines was set to down tools after the union declined a 7.5% wage offer. The union is demanding a 15% wage increase. Meanwhile, the union’s workers in the coal sector will also go on strike next week, after the union was granted a certificate of non-resolution by the CCMA after talks reached a deadlock. The union is demanding a 14% wage increase while the employer is offering between 7% and 8.5%.

The gold industry resumes negotiations next week after talks deadlocked on July 13. The National Chamber of Mines, negotiating on behalf of AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold and Goldfields, is offering between 5% and 5.5% while the NUM and United Association of SA (Uasa) are demanding a 14% increase. Solidarity is demanding 12%.

Energy: The NUM rejected a 5.5% wage increase offer by Eskom on Wednesday and on Thursday parties returned to the negotiating table. The union is demanding a 16% increase. Solidarity, meanwhile, is still in talks with Eskom and it said this week that negotiations would gain momentum in the coming weeks.

Petroleum: Solidarity suspended its strike on Wednesday after a new wage offer of between 8% to 10%, depending on an employee's level. But the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu), which is the biggest union in the sector, announced on Thursday that its members had rejected the offer, which would have put to the end a two week strike action. The union is demanding a 13% wage increase.

Public sector: Public sector unions were to convene on Friday to consider an informal "facilitatory" offer of an 6.8% increase. The unions are asking for 8%, down from an initial demand of 10%, but want issues relating to a new housing scheme and medical aid subsidy to be finalised before signing any agreement.

The South Africa Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) is still consulting with its members on a 6.08% offer and a 7.5% proposal by the facilitator. The workers are demanding an 18% wage increase. The union will convene next week to reassess its position before the next round of negotiations begins.

Metal and engineering industry: After initially declaring a dispute with the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) last month over annual increases of 4.1% over the next five years, on Monday both the NUM and Solidarity signed a wage settlement that put an end to a two week strike. Solidarity settled on an 8% to 10% increase, while the National Union of Metalworkers in South Africa (Numsa) settled on a 10% increase. (Mail & Guardian/Independent Online)


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