South Africa’s Mineworkers to call strike in coal sector

South Africa's Mineworkers to call strike in coal sector

South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Wednesday it would give coal companies a 48-hour strike notice after wage talks collapsed.

“We have the certificate to strike and will give the companies 48-hour notice later,” Peter Bailey, NUM’s chief negotiator in the coal sector, told Reuters.

NUM had been seeking wage hikes of up to 50 percent at one point but had scaled back and Bailey said its latest demand for its lowest-paid members was for increases of 1,000 rand ($72) a month, which he said amounted to about 13 percent.

A spokeswoman for the Chamber of Mines, which represents Glencore, Anglo American Coal and Exxaro, said the coal producers had raised their offer to wage hikes of up to 8.5 percent for the lowest-paid workers, from 8 percent previously.

Inflation is currently running at 4.6 percent.

About 30,000 workers could take part in the strike by the NUM. Two smaller unions which represent mostly skilled workers and supervisors accepted the coal offers last week.

Like other mining sectors, coal has been hard hit by sliding commodity prices in the face of slowing Chinese growth, while power and labour costs in South Africa have been rising sharply in recent years.

But South Africa’s mine workers have been growing increasingly militant amid perceptions that wages for the mostly black labour force remain too low two decades after the end of apartheid rule.

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