Back to the grindstone. Will the truce last?

2012-10-20 13:06

Some mine workers have returned to work in the face of a combination of wage increases and ultimatums, although it is still too early to know whether the truce will last.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was this weekend again expected to present workers in the gold sector
with an offer that was tabled by the Chamber of Mines on Thursday.

The offer boils down to a 2% increase based on adjustments to the job categories of workers, and does not differ significantly from an offer rejected by workers last week Monday.

The only tweak is an undertaking from Harmony Gold, whose Kusasalethu mine on the West Rand has been standing idle since October 3, to increase the special allowance for rock-drill operators to an amount in line with what was offered by AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields.

The operations of AngloGold Ashanti, South Africa’s biggest gold producer by output, remained suspended.

At Gold Fields, about 9 000 employees at its Beatrix mine in Free State and more than 11 000 at KDC West on the West Rand heeded a deadline of 2pm to return to work on Thursday. The group’s KDC East mine, however, is still suspended following a new strike by some 8 500 workers earlier this week.

The company told workers to start reporting for duty from the night shift on Monday, and the morning and afternoon shifts on Tuesday, or face dismissal.

Anglo American Platinum, which has already sacked some 12 000 workers at its Rustenburg operation, said on Thursday it would commence negotiations with its recognised unions over strikes at its Amandelbult mine in Limpopo and the Union Mine, which spans the North West and Limpopo border.

It is, however, not prepared to reinstate the dismissed workers in Rustenburg.

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