SA coal production
“’ back on track
Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 02 August 2011 – The striking employees of South Africa’s top coal mining companies are due to return to work tomorrow, following an agreement on wages between the Chamber of Mines (COM) and the labour unions.

This means that the threat of Eskom running out of coal to supply the nation’s power requirements is over, and coal exports will not be affected either.

The COM says it has signed a two-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and UASA, whereby – for most companies – entry level wages would increase by between 10% and 10.5%. Miners, artisans and officials would receive an 8% salary increase, while operators would get 9% more. The increases are backdated to July 1.

COM spokesperson Jabu Maphalala said the principle of no work, no pay, would be applied to calculate the July-salaries of all workers who took part in the week-long strike.

As for 2012, the average wage increases are 7.5% for miners, artisans and officials, and 8.5% for operators. Entry level wages would increase by 10%. Prior to the strike, the NUM was originally looking for a 14% increase.

The coal companies involved were Anglo American Thermal Coal, Delmas Coal, Exxaro Coal Mpumalanga, Kangra Coal, Optimum Coal as well as Xstrata Coal.

According to a statement released by the COM, the parties have also agreed to increase the employer contributions to medical aid schemes, as well as increases in housing allowances. NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said these increases were company specific, with Anglo American Thermo Coal workers now receiving R7,007 as a housing allowance.

As for medical aid contributions, Anglo would continue to pay 60% of members’ contribution, which would rise in line with medical inflation, Seshoka said. Delmas Coal, as another example, would increase its contribution by a fixed rate of 6%.

The COM said it was expecting striking employees to start returning to work today, but Seshoka said most workers would only be back tomorrow.