Coal strike starts

2011-07-25 07:35

Workers in the coal industry have embarked on a countrywide strike, warning of “serious implications” for the economy if their demands were not met.

“It began last night ... we have 150 000 workers taking part in this strike,” said National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka this morning.

“Our members are working underground in the coal mine industry – they play the most important part in the coal chain.”

NUM workers were demanding a 14% increase and Solidarity members a 12% raise.

The Chamber of Mines, which negotiated on behalf of companies including Anglo Thermal Coal SA, Delmas Coal, Exxaro, Kangra Coal, Optimum Coal and Xstrata Coal, last week offered a revised 8.5% wage increase for entry-level employees and 7% for other employees.

But Seshoka said this was not good enough.

“This strike action will have serious negative ramifications ... the entire economy depends on electricity,” he said.

While Eskom had said it had a six-week coal stock pile, the union understood that the electricity provider would not be able to function for longer than three weeks without these workers, Seshoka said.

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