Miners to down tools over breakdown in wage talks

Two mining companies have signed agreements with unions, ending weeks of negotiations.

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While the exact details of the wage deal have not yet been released, the offer will see entry-level workers receive pay increases of up to 14 percent in the first year.

Talks were being handled by the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, an independent statutory body set up to resolve labor disputes.

The biggest gold union of mine workers accepted a wage offer from gold producers, gold prices are up 2% and shares of Gold Fields (GFI) and Barrick Gold (ABX) are among the stocks moving higher.

“The agreement provides, for example, a 10 to 13 percent increase in basic wage for each of the three years”. This could mean any refusal by Amcu would prevent Sibanye from automatically extending the agreement, as the representation of the three other unions only reaches 49%. A rival union has however yet to accept the offer.

“We have a certificate to strike but have not yet decided on our course of action”.

“The talks have completely collapsed”, a spokesman for the NUM, the majority union in the sector, told Reuters.

The strike was brewing amid general pressure on the mining industry due to a plunge in commodity prices.

Eskom has said it only had enough coal to last up to a month but could look into other options, such as trucking coal directly from the mines to power stations.

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Glencore, under pressure from investors to cut billions of rand in debt, said on Thursday it would close its South Witbank coal mine, resulting in the loss of 340 jobs.

South Africa sent more police to the strike-hit platinum belt on Tuesday to protect miners returning to work this week as producers pushed