Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 08 August 2011 – Diamond miners in South Africa are back at work after a 14-day strike, while a wage dispute continued at Impala Platinum, and intensified at state power utility Eskom, with unions threatening a strike that could cut electricity to Africa’s biggest economy.

South Africa has been hit by a wave of strikes that have already dented output in the fuel, gold and coal sectors, threatening to curb growth in an already stagnant economy.

Talks between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), two other unions and Eskom collapsed after the utility refused to improve its 7% wage rise offer. The three unions have lowered their demands to 13%.

“We have come down on our demands but Eskom is refusing to bargain,” NUM chief negotiator at Eskom Paris Mashego told Reuters.

The NUM demand is well above the country’s 5% inflation rate and comes after winning 9% increases for unionised workers at Eskom a year ago after threatening to walk off the job when South Africa was hosting the soccer World Cup.

The NUM “’ the country’s most powerful union with more than 250,000 members “’ also reached deals last week in the coal and gold sectors for wage increases of 7.5 to 10%, which will likely be used as benchmarks for pay hikes in other industries, including Impala Platinum and Anglo Platinum, which together account for two-thirds of the world’s production of the precious metal.