New wage agreement offered to SA strikers

STRIKING coal miners in South Africa have returned to work after accepting a new wage agreement from employers on their third day off the job.

Staff Reporter

Reuters reported thousands of Solidarity union members working at mines owned by Anglo Coal and Exxaro downed tools on Monday to protest pay conditions handed down from their employers.

A new offer of an 8% pay rise initially and a further 8% the following year was accepted by the workers, who officially ended the strike at midnight Wednesday (local time).

While the Chamber of Mines of South Africa has downplayed the industrial action as having no effect on mine productivity, Solidarity is certain the strike had hurt outputs, particularly at Exxaro’s Matla mine.

The chamber said the strike involved about 1000 workers at a number of sites, mainly primary officials and artisans, and that contingency plans, including the hiring of temporary replacement staff, have been enacted.

A spokesperson for Anglo Coal confirmed to Reuters that 21% of the workforce across its nine minesites had not attended work on Monday, with 18% failing to show on Tuesday.

The mine confirmed the workers’ absence did not affect production at all.

The union, however, claims that up to 3000 workers were involved in the strike.

South Africa is a key supplier of coal to Europe and relies heavily on coal for its electricity needs, meaning a drawn-out strike threatened to upset the country’s power supply.