London 03/09/2013 – South African National Union of Mineworkers members in the gold industry are preparing to go on strike later on Tuesday after talks with the industry’s collective bargaining body, the Chamber of Mines, failed.
The union, which represents about two thirds of the country’s 120,000 unionised mineworkers, is pushing for a 60 percent wage increase for the lowest paid workers, and announced last week that it will walk out with effect from the night shift this evening.
The Chamber of Mines previously offered a basic wage increase of between 6.0 and 6.5 percent, with higher allowances for accommodation.
The strike could bring gold mining in the sixth largest producing country to a standstill, as other unions have said that they will not act as strike breakers.
In 2012, South African gold production fell by nearly 25 tonnes to 177.8 tonnes on the back of widespread strikes, causing its production to fall below that of Peru.
“We cannot allow the union posturing and rivalry to be the determining factor in these negotiations. If we do not settle and get on with the business of gold mining, we are going to continue to slip in international rankings,” Chamber of Mines spokesman and the CEO of Harmony Graham Briggs said.
Talk of the strike will have lent some support to gold prices, which had been rather bullish of late on global political risk factors. The metal this afternoon managed to break above $1,400 per ounce again and was last quoted at $1,402.15/1,402.95 per ounce, up $11.10 on Monday’s close.
(Editing by Martin Hayes)