S.Africa’s gold mining strike enters second day

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers take part in a strike in Johannesburg. - STRINGER/Reuters

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers take part in a strike in Johannesburg. – STRINGER/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s gold mining strike entered its second day on Wednesday with no further wage talks planned between unions and the employers, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said.

“The strike is going on. We have not been invited to new talks to discuss our demands,” said NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.

The NUM, which represents all of the striking miners, dismissed reports that it had scaled down its demand to increase wages by at least 60 percent to only 10 percent.

“The NUM has not settled for a 10 percent. That is not true, our demand stands, but we are open to negotiations,” said Seshoka.

But Seshoka told local media that the union was prepared to accept a double-digit offer, without revealing a figure.

The employers are offering a 6.5 percent increase.

The strike which is expected to cripple the gold sector started on Tuesday night.

All but one of the seven affected producers — which include Harmony, AngloGold Ashanti, and Sibanye Gold — were hit by the strike.

Mbuyiseli Hibana, NUM regional secretary in the mining town of Carletonville, south of Johannesburg, said more workers were expected to stay away on Wednesday.

“This is a legal strike so the workers are not afraid of losing their jobs like in the past,” said Hibana.

The NUM claims membership of around 80,000 in the industry which, in 2012, employed just over 140,000 workers.

The gold sector stands to lose 761 kilogrammes in production each day, worth around $34 million, as a result of work stoppages, gold industry spokeswoman Charmane Russell said.

Stoppages in the mining sector have become a frequent occurrence during annual wage negotiations, but this year they come amid sluggish growth and rampant unemployment.

South Africa was for decades the world’s largest gold producer, but its share of production has shrunk from 68 percent in 1970 to six percent of the world total last year. – AFP.

 

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