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Gold mining strike talks stall

Oct 15 2012 16:06

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Johannesburg - Individual gold mining companies will have to find new ways to end the unprotected strike in the sector after talks at the SA Chamber of Mines stalled on Monday.

A meeting between the chamber and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa could not find a solution to the on-going unprotected strike by an estimated 50 000 workers.

During the meeting, unions gave the chamber feedback on the proposals tabled by employers last week.

The unions indicated there had been mixed reactions by their members to the chamber's proposals, and that they were unable to confirm that their members would return to work.

The chamber said it was not in a position to make any further proposals.

"[The chamber] and the individual companies will now explore other avenues to try to bring normality to the gold mining industry," it said.

Senior executive Elize Strydom said: "The current impasse is extremely unfortunate, not only for the industry and its employees, but also for future growth and development in South Africa, given the critical role that gold mining plays in our country's economic development."

On behalf of AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG], Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] and Harmony Gold Mining Company [JSE:HAR], the chamber had proposed doing away with the lowest wage category to increase the industry's entry-level wage.

A new category would be created for locomotive, loader, winch, and water jet operators, to improve their salaries.

Other employees would have their pay adjusted to preserve the integrity of the present job grading framework. An allowance for rock drill operators was also proposed, she said.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said his union would "work with the employers at company level to find a solution to the impasse".

Uasa spokesperson Franz Stehring said his union would be considering options such as special legal action and restructuring.

"Our members are not participating in the strike, but are becoming victims of the violence and intimidation," he said.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said: "It is high time that government steps into the fold and ends this ongoing strike. The end result is that marginal mining companies will close down, and big mining companies start retrenching."



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