SA coal mines
“’ still standing idle
as strike continues
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 29 July 2011 – While South Africa’s striking gold mine workers and the country’s main producers are to meet today for wage talks in a bid to end their strike, the work stoppage in the coalfields has entered its fifth day with no concrete sign of ending.

South African national power utility Eskom Holdings has warned that, although it has stockpiles which will last over a month, there is still a danger of running out and having power supplies disrupted.

But there is no immediate end in sight for the coal strike, although talks yesterday produced some progress.

“The talks in the collieries remain inconclusive. We have said we need more time to talk to our members,” spokesman Lesiba Seshoka of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) told Reuters. “They have revised their wage offer, which I cannot disclose at this point in time. It is a matter of us hearing what our members have to say,” he said.

The Chamber of Mines is negotiating on behalf of the coal companies which include Anglo Thermal Coal SA, Delmas Coal, Exxaro, Kangra Coal, Optimum Coal and Xstrata Coal.

Meanwhile some 100,000 workers at AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold, and another smaller mining group downed tools yesterday, demanding wage hikes of 14% against offers of 7 to 9%.

The country’s annual strike season is in full swing with unions demanding 10 to 15% pay rises, well above inflation of 5%. The strikes have also hit chemicals and diamond mining with worries about economic damage increasing the longer they last.

Labour strife has ended on one front. Petroleum workers accepted a deal that ended an almost three-week strike which had slowed commerce and caused panic buying at the pumps in Africa’s largest economy.