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SA strikes spread to transport sector

Sep 25 2012 19:25

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Johannesburg - South Africa's labour strikes spread on Tuesday from its mines to the transport sector and the country's transport union says over 20 000 road freight employees are on strike demanding a pay increase.

South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) said road freight employees are demanding a 12% pay increase. Employers had offered an 8.5% increase, an offer that was rejected in the Gauteng province earlier on Tuesday, Satawu spokesperson Vincent Masoga said. The workers also want an equal increase for workers classified under the council's extended bargaining unit, he said.

Striking truck drivers gathered in Johannesburg on Tuesday, and threw stones at passing trucks, according to the South Africa Press Association.

The union said workers decided to strike after a deadlock in wage negotiations since June. If it continues the strike will affect the delivery of goods including petrol and food items.

Also on Tuesday, mine workers for the Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines near Rustenburg met with management and arbitrators to discuss demands submitted last week for greater pay.

Gaddafi Mdoda said on Tuesday that strikes at about six of the Amplats mines near Rustenburg will continue until a deal is reached.

"On the memorandum, we are pleading that we want R16 000 gross monthly pay, but after tax we are basically in need of R12 500," said miners' representative Gaddafi Mdoda.

Striking miners at Lonmin [JSE:LON], a platinum mine in South Africa's north west, had demanded a take-home pay of R12 500, but eventually they accepted a 22% pay raise that gave them a monthly pay of R11 000 rand.

The deal was reached after nearly six weeks of sometimes violent protests that saw 46 people killed. The Lonmin deal has led to other miners in the area to demand the same, and to sidestep their unions to deal directly with management.

Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] spokesperson Mpumi Sithole told The Associated Press that she did not have updates on the talks on Tuesday, or the number of miners striking.

Anglo American Platinum is the world's largest producer of the metal used in jewellery and to reduce carbon emissions of high-end vehicles. Police broke up several gatherings last week at the Amplats mine settlements using tear gas.

Mdoda said that five worker representatives are meeting directly with Amplats management and representatives from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, the same body that helped in Lonmin negotiations.

Amplats miners will gather on Wednesday, despite the outcome of talks on Tuesday. Mdoda said he expected 9 000 to 10 000 workers at the Bleskop stadium near Rustenburg.

"We are going to meet no matter what," Mdoda said. "If it is negative, the strike will continue in a hard way because it's been a long time we've been waiting for the management to discuss our demands."

Strikes at the Amplats mines have been ongoing for weeks despite calls from management that workers return to the mines or face legal action.

Labour unrest is also ongoing in the gold mining sector. Nearly 25 000 workers are on strike at Gold Field's KDC West and Beatrix mines, spokesperson Willie Jacobsz said on Tuesday.

Strikes at the KDC West mines started more than two weeks ago.

"The cause of the strikes at KDC West was originally a leadership issues, though other issues have surfaced, gone away and returned," said Jacobz.

"The financial question has raised its head, but our position is that we currently have an existing wage agreement in place until the middle of next year. "

Jacobz said the KDC West mine, when operating, produces about 14 000 ounces of gold per day, while the Beatrix mine produces 900 ounces daily.

South Africa produces 75% of the world's platinum and is the number 4 chrome producer and the fifth-biggest gold producer. South Africa produces 7% of the world's production of gold.

Miners at AngloGold Ashanti's Kopanang mine, which employs 5 000 people and produced about 4% of AngloGold Ashanti's total production in the first half of this year, continued strikes started last week into Tuesday, company spokesperson Alan Fine said.

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lonmin  |  ccma  |  satawu  |  transport strike  |  mining unrest



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