Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 21 July 2011 – South African coal miners have started wage negotiations with trade unions and a mediator in a bid to prevent stoppages that could threaten supply to the country’s power plants and limit exports.
Africa’s largest economy relies on coal for almost all its power, but state-owned utility Eskom has said it has enough coal in stock to last 41 days, so a strike would have to be lengthy to affect its operations.
The Chamber of Mines is negotiating on behalf of several coal miners, including Anglo Thermal Coal SA, Exxaro, Optimum Coal and Xstrata Coal.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is seeking a 14% raise, about triple the inflation rate, while employers are offering 6% for the lowest-paid workers and 5% for other employees.
Unions and employers across South Africa are locked in the mid-year wage bargaining session, known as ‘strike season’, with many labour groups seeking increases far in excess of inflation.
Tens of thousands of fuel sector workers have been striking for 10 days, delaying deliveries to filling stations and sparking panic buying in the country’s economic hub around Johannesburg.
Reuters reports that fuel unions are consulting members on a revised pay rise offer of between 8 and 10%, although they are unlikely to accept it.
Police escorts are allowing some delivery trucks to get through picket lines, although scores of filling stations around Johannesburg have run dry.
Fuel industry employers include BP plc, Royal Dutch Shell, petrochemicals group Sasol, Engen, Chevron and Total.