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Gold mine strike: A wait-and-see game

Sep 06 2013 16:26 Sapa
A mine worker walks home after his shift. (Mujahid

A mine worker walks home after his shift. View gallery of the gold mine strike. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)

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Johannesburg - Despite optimism that the gold mine strike will be called off, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said there are no guarantees that all its members will agree to the latest pay offer from gold producers.

Most gold mine workers have accepted a revised offer by employers, NUM said on Friday.

"All our members, except for those at Harmony mines in the Free State and the Northern Cape, accepted the revised offer," spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said.

"Members accepted an 8% wage increase for category four and five workers, including rock drill operators. They were satisfied with the figures," Seshoka said.

"Category six to eight workers accepted a 7% basic wage deal increase."

He said union leaders would continue engaging with miners who had not accepted the deal.

No guarantees

"There are no guarantees whether the members that have not accepted will agree to this offer, it's a wait-and-see game."

On Wednesday, NUM-affiliated workers at Evander Gold and Village Main Reef agreed to a similar deal.

The Chamber of Mines announced that those miners accepted an 8% increase in basic wages for category four and five employees.

"A 7.5% increase in basic wages for category six to eight employees, [including] miners, artisans, and officials," the chamber's chief negotiator Elize Strydom had said.

NUM demanded increases of R2 300 for surface workers, and R3 000 for underground workers, which equated to a 49% wage increase and a 60% wage increase, respectively.

The Chamber of Mines, representing gold producers, initially offered a 6.5% increase.

Severely affected

At the start of the strike on Tuesday most gold mines were severely affected.

Gold producers' representative spokesperson Charmane Russell said less than 20% of the work force arrived for shifts.

After a revised offer was presented to some workers, Sibanye Gold reported that production at its Kloof and Driefontein mines resumed on Thursday at the start of the night shift.

"Sibanye Gold is now operating at over 80% of its planned capacity. Engagement with NUM continues to be positive," Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted said in a statement.

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