Johannesburg - Wage negotiations in the coal sector are set to begin on Wednesday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said.
"The meeting will start at 10:00 today in Johannesburg. We are hopeful that perhaps today the employers will come with a more reasonable offer," said spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka.
Spokesman for the Chamber of Mines, Jabu Maphalala, said: "Today is the first process of mediation. Usually on the first day the mediator from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will be familiarising themselves with the issues."
Seshoka said the NUM "remains optimistic" that employers would make an offer approaching the union's demand of a 14% increase.
The chamber - negotiating for Anglo Thermal Coal SA, Delmas Coal, Exxaro Resources [JSE:EXX]
, Kangra Coal, Optimum Coal and Xstrata Coal - had offered six percent for the lowest paid employees and five percent for the rest.
"It is too early to say whether there is cause to be optimistic or not, we will have to see how the negotiations unfold," Maphalala said.