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South African Protest News 1- 14 August 2011 (2011) South African Protest News 1- 14 August 2011.  : -.

Thousands march in the Northern Cape to demand safety
NUM 12 August 2011

Thousands of mineworkers will tomorrow march from Sishen Iron Ore mine hostels to Kumba offices at the Kathu Business hub in the Northern Cape to demand that the mining industry, the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Labour take seriously their demand for their safety. This is part of the build-up towards the national day of mourning which will be held on the 4th of October 2011 where mineworkers will down tools in pursuit of their demand to be safe.

A memorandum will be delivered to the Northern Cape Mine Managers Asociation, the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Labour. The details of the march are as follows:

Time: 09h00 am
Venue: Gather outside the Sishen Mine Hostels

The march in the Northern Cape will be followed by another in Limpopo next week. The National Union of Mineworkers is committed to pressure the mining industry to ensure that workers do not die at work as well as to force the government departments to act decisively when workers loose their lives at work. To date, a total of 75 miners lost their lives in the country and the figure is rising. In the Northern Cape, a total of 31 dangerous occurances took place in 2011 resulting in 34 serious injuries and three deaths. The target in terms of fatalities is zero and the mining industry remains defiant when it comes to compliance.

Cornelius Manhe-(Regional Health and Safety Chairperson)- 078 563 3193

Lesiba Seshoka- (NUM National Spokesman)- 082 803 6719

COSATU Moses Kotane Local fully supports striking SATAWU members
Cosatu 11 August 2011

COSATU Moses Kotane Local fully supports striking SATAWU members at Prestige Cleaning Company at Sun City Resorts in the North West Province.

COSATU Moses Kotane Local further calls on the management of Sun City or Sun International South Africa to terminate its contract with the so-called cleaning company as it is nothing but the same as Labour Brokers who are exploiting and undermining the poor of this country more so women.

It is a given fact that most workers at this racist Prestige Company are women and we as COSATU are all out to fight for the liberation of women who unfortunately find themselves under the bondages and oppression until now.

This is women’s month and as the working class and the poor we should go all out to demand the living wages for all women in cleaning companies like Prestige.

It is actually a given fact that owners of such companies do not have the interests of the poor at heart as they only see them as mobile and vocal machinery hence they are insulting them by paying them R 1200.00 monthly for their labour power whereas they are in turn raking in billions from companies like Sun City.

It is very much clear that Sun City as a company has the muscles to pay these poor employees a living wage and they can only do that by doing away with the middle man in this case Prestige Cleaning Company.

COSATU Moses Kotane further calls for the immediate arrest of anti-revolutionary police officials who arrested and brutally assaulted poor striking employees at Sun Village on the 08th of August 2011.

It is indeed unacceptable that the police are still in the police to assault and insult poor workers who are in a legal industrial action and continue telling them that they don’t give a damn about their rights. Those barbaric acts by the people vested with the task of protecting the poor of this country cannot be condoned as it defeats the whole gains of 1994 and COSATU Moses Kotane Local calls for the dismissal of such monsters in our state organs.

COSATU calls the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) to investigate this matter and bring those gangster police officers to book as it is having their names.

COSATU also intends marching to Sun City Resorts to call for the termination of both Prestige Cleaning Company’s and Inn-staff contracts as per its resolution to call for ending of Labour Brokers and to Sun City Police Station to call for the arrest and dismissal of those anti-working class and poor, anti-revolutionary and barbaric policemen. The march will also advocate for the emancipation of women from all forms of oppression being Class oppression, Gender oppression and National oppression.

For more information please feel free to call the Local Secretary of Cosatu Moses Kotane Comrade Madito wa ga Molebalwa at 072 305 6301.

SATAWU Limpopo will be marching to Great North Transport and Department of Roads and Transport on the 12 August 2011.

SATAWU Limpopo will be marching to Great North Transport and Department of Roads and Transport on the 12 August 2011.

Great North Transport

This is after numbers attempts by SATAWU to address noncompliance to SARPBAC main agreement by other regions and depots of Great North Transport which are

• Payment of SNT and step out allowance
• Night shift allowance
• Provident fund etc.

To Department of Roads Transport
As part of our National programme against AARTO. Limpopo SATAWU is going to hand in memorandum to the MEC of Roads and Transport. To highlight the impact of AARTO to our members in the transport sectors. – Passenger, Taxi and Roads Freight, SATAWU contents that AARTO is unconstitutional and illegal as the authorities have failed to consult to the relevant stake holders at NEDLAC prior to its engagement as official legislation.
•We will also demand the investigation on the allegation of corruption in the department as indicated by Sunday
The march will be led by our National Office Bearers and COSATU leadership together with SATAWAU PEC. Our members of Great North Transport and other Sectors will be part of the march.
The march will also hand memorandum at Noordvaal
• The above company undermine the agreements reached at National Bargaining Council
• It also disregard agreements reached by SATAWU and their Attorneys

Issued by SATAWU Limpopo
Paul Nephawe : Provincial Secretary 083 424 8842

One injured in Grabouw protest
IOL News 10 August 2011

A woman was injured during service delivery protests in Grabouw in the Western Cape on Wednesday, police said.

A rubber bullet hit the 19-year-old woman in the eye, Warrant Officer November Filander said.

“Rubber bullets were fired at the crowd after they started throwing stones at police,” said Filander.

He said the group dispersed at midday after community leaders spoke to them.

No police officers were injured, but police vehicles were damaged. A case of illegal gathering and public violence was opened.

No arrests had been made. -

NUMSA backs Cleaning Workers Strike
Numsa 10 August 2011

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) fully backs the ongoing strike action by cleaning workers for a living wage as led by our reliable and dependably ally, SATAWU.

The malodorous arrogance displayed by the cleaning industry oligarchy with their newly found friends, the tenderpreneurs, who are profiteering from outsourced cleaning tenders from government and other strategic public utility’s, is indicative of their intentions to maintain and reproduce the old apartheid income inequalities amidst the deepening crisis of poverty, mass unemployment, escalating costs of basic necessities, fuel and transport to the detriment of the workers and the poor.

We are conscious of the fact that the cleaning industry has become a lucrative business venture for tenderpreneurs occupying strategic positions of power and influence in our movement and the state for their primitive and self-centred accumulation interests to the benefits of their spouses and extended families. The profits or money accumulated from these cleaning tenders are being blown-up or wasted on Golf courses and opulent parties where food is served over bodies of naked women. Whilst the hard working and dedicated cleaning workers are left-out to fend for the next meals or transport money to come to work.

This strike action is taking place during the very important month of August 2011, as we celebrate the heroic 1956 struggles by the women of our country. And the cleaning industry is mainly dominated by female workers and it would be an insult to our government through the Ministry of Labour, if it does not act in the interest of these workers by imposing a minimum wage to the employers.

We call on the cleaning company bosses to concede to the legitimate and genuine demands of workers, such as a minimum wage demand of R4 200-00 per month, employers contribution to the Provident Fund, a 40 hours of work per week and an 13th cheque bonus. These demands by workers are in sync with the ANC’s electoral promises of creating decent work and the Freedom Charter’s resolve for equal pay for equal work.

We call on the cleaning workers to remain firm and resolute in their demands for a minimum wage and improved conditions of employment. Fighting together we can achieve more for our workers!

Contact: Castro Ngobese, National Spokesperson – 073 299 1595

30 held for murder
IOL News10 August 2011

Thirty people were arrested for allegedly killing a man who they accused of a business robbery in Bityi about 5km outside Mthatha, Eastern Cape police said on Wednesday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said the 35-year-old man was assaulted and killed on Tuesday night.

The community said he had robbed a spaza shop in the area.

“We have set up campaigns in these areas where the community are taking the law into their own hands,” Fatyela said.

The 30 arrested were expected to appear in the Mthatha Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

SATAWU condemns the illegal strike action of Gautrain bus drivers

The South African Transport & Allied Workers Unions (SATAWU) condemns in the strongest words possible the actions of Mega Express bus drivers who are contracted to Gautrain. According to media reports, these workers are currently on an illegal strike. We wish to publicly say SATAWU did not declare any mutual interest dispute with Bombela Operating Company the owners of Gautrain. SATAWU does not condone any illegal action taken by its members.

The decision to embark on an illegal strike and march to Bombela’s offices to demand a salary adjustment is quite regrettable. SATAWU strongly condemns this action, our national office has instructed the Gauteng provincial executive to investigate the matter and provide a full report on the context under which the decision to strike was taken.

Issued by SATAWU Secretariat

For further enquiries contact:

Assaria Mataboge –Passenger bus sector coordinator – 082 379 0927

Ephraim Mphahlele – Gauteng Provincial Chairperson 072 111 8131

Kennedy Road: teen hurt
Daily news 8 August 2011

Mlamuli Bango was at the wrong place, at the wrong time. The 16-year-old was coming back from a shop when he was shot with rubber bullets during a clash between residents and security guards at the Kennedy Road informal settlement on Saturday.

“I heard gunshots and that there was some problem with the people and illegal electricity connections,” said the Grade 8 Lakehaven Secondary School pupil.

He was then hit three times, once on his arm and twice on his back.

Security guards and some residents at the Kennedy Road informal settlement have clashed in the past as the municipality looks to disconnect illegal electricity connections and deal with cable theft.

A month ago, a man was shot on the chin with a rubber bullet when guards raided the settlement.

Illegal connections and cable theft cost ratepayers R120 million a year.

Mlamuli spent Saturday night in Addington Hospital and was discharged yesterday.

“The doctors said that I must come back if I feel any pain,” he said.

“I’m scared now. I wish I could live somewhere else,” said Bango.

His mother, Nomonde, said that she was worried about her children walking the streets.

“What if this happens again?

“And what if he is killed the next time?” she asked.

Nozuko Hulushe, Bango’s aunt, who witnessed the incident, said she saw members of a private security company raiding dwellings and removing cables that had been used to illegally connect electricity.

“Members of the community got angry because we need the electricity – it is a basic need that has not been provided by the municipality,” she said.

Police spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said police had received a report that a 16-year-old boy had been shot with rubber bullets.

“Some of the private security guards were assaulted. There was gunfire that came from within the settlement,” he said.

President of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack dwellers’ movement, Sbu Zikode, said police needed to find out who was responsible for shooting Mlamuli.

“This is the reality of the war that the eThekwini Municipality and the government of South Africa is waging on the poor of this country day after day,” he said.

“Who was responsible for the shooting: the guards or the community?” he asked.

Mdunge said there were no Metro police officers or SAPS members on the scene.

eThekwini Municipality department of electricity head, Sandile Maphumulo, said his department was aware that people living in shacks needed electricity but said committees were meeting to discuss how they would go about doing this later this month.

“The challenge is bigger than people think,” he said at the time.

The community was still tense after a security guard tasked with protecting city workers was killed last month.

More unions join cleaners' strike
Mail & Guardian8 August 2011

Six more unions will join the cleaning sector strike, the National Service and Allied Workers' Union (Nasawu) said on Sunday.

"Nasawu and five other trade unions will join the strike by thousands of contract cleaners on Monday," said spokesperson Sam Ndou in a statement.

This was after talks broke down between unions and employers, mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), on August 3.

The Hotel, Liquor, Catering Commercial, and Allied Workers' Union of SA (Hotelicca) and the Professional Transport and Allied Workers' Union of SA went on strike last Monday.

The strike has affected cleaning at old age homes, private hospitals, shopping centres, and government institutions.

The unions demand a minimum salary of R4200 and hourly wage increases of 6% for area A employees, and 6.5% for those in area C.

Ndou said strikers had been shown sympathy by the students, academics and the workers' solidarity committee of the University of Witwatersrand.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said on Friday that the organisation supported the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu), the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), and six other unions' decision.

"Their conditions of employment remain pathetic," Craven said.

Other demands included a 13th cheque, an eight-hour working day, and for members in rural areas to be paid the same as their urban colleagues.

"This is a slave-wage industry," Satawu said on Friday.

"Our members are justified in calling for an improved offer from the employers."

Cosatu urged its members and all South Africans to support the cleaning sector workers. -- Sapa

Gaswalk - Cape Town - Women's Day - please share widely!!

Press Release: Embargo: None
GASWALK: antiFRACK protest march, on WOMEN’S DAY, 9 Aug
From the Natural History Museum in the Company Gardens, Cape Town assemble at 10h30 – walk begins 11h00

A group of Capetonians, initiated by renowned photographer Kian Erikson, has organised GASWALK, a protest march against fracking, in partnership with NPOs Climate Justice Campaign and Earthlife Africa CT.

The procession through the streets of Cape Town will take place on Women's Day, August 9, to raise awareness of the threat that fracking poses to the most vulnerable in society, specifically women and children.

“The quality of our environment is fundamental to the quality of life of our people. Our constitution guarantees every South African the right to a clean, healthy environment”, says Muna Lakhani of Earthlife Africa. “The hydraulic fracturing planned in most of South Africa’s land mass, from the Karoo to the Drakensberg, directly threatens the quality of our air and water, and thereby the health and wellbeing of our people. Resource extraction has made corporations and an elite rich, but local communities remain poor, and are most at risk from the environmental destruction caused by fossil fuel extraction.”

Pienaar protesters block road
IOL News 4 August 2011

Residents of Pienaar barricaded a road in protest against speeding motorists after a nine-year-old girl was killed by a car, Mpumalanga police said.

Residents of Pienaar barricaded a road in protest against speeding motorists after a nine-year-old girl was killed by a car, Mpumalanga police said on Thursday.

“The situation is still tense but a large number of police officers are patrolling the area to avert any violent action. We strongly advise motorists to use alternative routes as they might be harmed,” said Lt-Col Ronnie Sikhonde.

The child was crossing Luphisa road to Maminza Primary School on Wednesday around 7am, when a passing car knocked her down. She was certified dead on the scene.

“The incident infuriated the residents who dug big holes and burnt tyres on the road. They demanded an end to what they called a high level of pedestrian accidents, allegedly caused by speeding,” said Sikhonde.

The barricaded road was mainly used by people travelling between Pienaar and several villages and towns including Mbombela, Ka-Bokweni and Phakame.

A case of culpable homicide had been opened for investigation. No arrests were made. -

Municipal workers announce plans for nationwide strike
Mail & Guardian 5 August 2011

Almost 145 000 municipal workers will begin a countrywide strike on August 15, the South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) said on Friday.

"Our union's memberships from around the country have indicated that they are ready and willing to embark on this rolling mass action," Samwu general secretary Mthandeki Nhlapo told reporters in Johannesburg.

He said the union rejected an offer of a 6% wage increase by the employer, the South African Local Government Association (Salga), and demanded increases of 18% or R2 000, whichever was greater.

"Contrary to what analysts have been saying, we believe that there is nothing wrong with demanding double digits. In fact, with such grave poverty witnessed in our country, workers ought to demand nothing less."

He said the strike would extend to the essential services sector, and possibly the water sector.

"If workers in the water sector strike, there will be a water crisis. Almost 60% to 70% of workers in South Africa's water boards are Samwu members."

He said Samwu would call off the strike if Salga approached it with a new offer before August 15, but doubted this would happen.

"If Salga was honest, we could avoid the strike, but they show no intention of finding a resolution." -- Sapa

COSATU NW on the march
Cosatu 4 August 2011

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the North West will be engaging on a protest march on the 5th August 2011 in the Moses Kotane area. This is going to take place in all our locals which constitute all the municipalities in the NW.

This march is part of the mobilisation process for our campaign on the following areas:

1. The living wage campaign
2. Growth path for full employment
3. Fighting for the banning of labour brokers
4. Program towards COP 17 in Durban in December
5. Fight against Wal-Mart
6. Fight for healthy and safe workplaces.
· Demand a report on the inspections done by the department of labour.
· Demand enforcement in areas where there is no compliance
7. Public sector ethos
8. Safe reliable and affordable public transport system
9. High electricity prices
10. Corruption
· Demand for the release of the SIU and the forensic investigation reports.
· Demand a report on the investigation of the 16 national departments.
· Demand a report on the murder of the comrade Moss Phakoe.
· Call for the regulation of the tender process.
· Ensure that there is whistle blower protection.
· Campaign for better housing standard.
· Publicise the black listed companies.
· Demand the provision of quality basic services to the community
11. Anti privatisation

This march is part of the local marches in mobilisation for the provincial march which will take place in October 2011 in demand of all of the above.

The march will take place as follows:

Date: 5 August 2011
Time: 11HOO
Venue: Mogwase zone 5 taxi rank to the municipality.

All workers and members of the community are requested to come out in their numbers to demand what is rightfully theirs.

We call on all our shop stewards to defend the members, fight for poor communities and for quality jobs. Any leader who defends employers and corrupt councillors does not belong to the working class, but belongs to the capitalists and the new tendency of corruption.

Media is also invited to join and cover the march.

For more information contact Solly Phetoe COSATU North West Provincial Secretary at 082 304 4055

Cleaning sector to embark on a national strike

The South African Transport & Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) and six other unions have served the Cleaning sector employers with a strike notice after wage talks between the two parties had failed. Over 100 000 workers will embark on a national strike as of Monday, 8th August 2011.

“SATAWU & the seven other unions have served the employers with a 48 hours’ notice of intentions to strike as per LRA. We intend to put pressure on cleaning sector employers to return to the negotiating table and offer working conditions and salaries which will improve conditions in this most vulnerable sector. says ” Lungile Ntshuntshe , SATAWU Chief Negotiator.

Workers have issued demands including a basic salary to R4 200, a 13th cheque equivalent to a month’s salary and 40 hours of work per week amongst other things.

Conditions of employment also remain pathetic.

Workers are not allowed any financial benefits, save for an annual stipend equivalent to one week’s pay. The sector is also characterized by physical and verbal abuse. There are other occupational hazards caused by working with strong cleaning chemicals, these may result in medical conditions like asthma.

We are also calling on sympathy strikes from our KZN counterparts in the cleaning sector. They are currently not on strike because they have a separate bargaining forum.

This is a slave-wage industry and our members are justified in calling for an improved offer from the employers. If we are serious about bridging the apartheid wage gap then we must raise the living standards of workers in the cleaning sector.

Contact: Lungile Ntshuntshe Satawu Chief Negotiator & Sector Coordinator 082 9511055

Reagoikanya Molopyane- Satawu National Spokesperson 082 395 0907/ 011 333 6127 [ email: ]

SAMWU press conference to announce national strike action

The Largest local Government Union SAMWU will hold a press conference tomorrow at 12:00pm. The purpose of the Press Conference will be to provide crucial information on the national strike action the Union plans to embark on.

SAMWU rejected the paltry offer of 6% made to workers by the employer body, SALGA. We are demanding 18% or R2000, whichever is greater.

Also in the water sector, the employer association, SAAWU, indicated that it is not in a position to improve its earlier offer of 4,6%. It further indicated that it was not in a position to respond to the union’s demands on housing, overtime, tool allowance, 6 months maternity leave and the phasing out of a Total-Cost-to-Company remuneration structure in the industry.

Members of the media are invited to the Press Conference tomorrow, to be held as follows;

Date : 05/08/2011
Venue : SAMWU JHB Head Office
84 Frederick Street, cnr Von Brandis
6th floor SAMWU house
Time : 12:00pm sharp

Secure underground parking is available on Von Brandis street.

The press conference will be addressed by the National leadership of the Union

NUM reaches agreement with gold and coal producers, diamond workers remain on strike
NUM 2 August 2011

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is pleased to announce that the strikes in both the gold and coal sectors have finally been resolved. Workers in the coal sector began work today whilst those in the gold sector will begin work tonight. The NUM has agreed on a 10,5% increment for the lowest paid workers in the coal sector and 10% for same in the gold sector for both year one and year two. The other categories will receive between 7,5% and 10% in both sectors depending on the company and the level of the post. “We are pleased with these achievements and hope that these represents a learning curve for all mining houses that you dare not take workers for granted” says Frans Baleni, the NUM General Secretary.

The workers also scored substantial amounts of money in living out allowances with some of them due to receive as much as R7000 a month for housing and or living out allowances. Furthermore, workers scored significant increments in medical aid allowances with some companies agreeing to adjust according to medical inflation whilst others would be increased with the percentage agreed upon on wages.

Meanwhile the strike at De Beers continues unabated with no talks scheduled for anytime soon. The workers at De Beers want a 15% increment whilst the company remains at 7, 5%. The NUM has rejected these offers and would intensify the two week long strike action.

Lesiba Seshoka- (NUM National Spokesman)- 082 803 6719

We are being deprived’
NIYANTA SINGH 31 July 2011

EThekwini ratepayers are losing R120 million a year to illegal electricity connections and cable theft – and the municipality has admitted it’s losing a “war” with shack dwellers who steal council cables and hotwire power connections.

This week, the city all but conceded it was being held to ransom by hundreds of shack dwellers living on the fringes of Reservoir Hills. In a desperate bid to restore power to frustrated ratepaying households in the area, the council backed off the fight with shack dwellers and let them reconnect illegally.

The city’s head of electricity, Sandile Maphumulo, says the incident is not isolated.

On Friday, shack dwellers threw rocks and packets of faeces at council contractors and security guards who had disconnected illegal connections and confiscated stolen cables in Reservoir Hills.

The windscreen of a security vehicle was shattered and guards fled. Last week, security guard Wiseman Mthombeni was shot dead in nearby Sea Cow Lake in a row over illegal connections.

Sydenham police officers and Public Order Police Unit officers arrived at the Shannon Drive settlement on Friday after security officers were chased away.

By Saturday afternoon, about 200 households in the area had been without electricity for 42 hours.

Electricity was restored for an hour, then went off again.

After an emergency meeting on Friday night, called by ward councillor Themba Mtshali, municipal representatives and residents (rate-payers and informal) it was agreed the council would turn a blind eye to illegal connections and not enter the shack settlement to disconnect.

On Saturday Vincent Zondi of the eThekwini electricity department said of Shannon Drive: “While we seek a solution, we will allow the illegal connections and the guards will not enter to take the cables.”

On Friday, shack residents chanted “no power for one, no power for all” before they sabotaged the main electricity cable to Shannon Drive, pulling the plug on the 200 households. A shack dweller told the Tribune: “We need the electricity to carry on living. We do not feel safe without it and because so many of us are unemployed we have no choice but to steal it.”

Maphumulo said on Friday teams were sent to repair the cables, but the job was made difficult by angry shack dwellers.

“We do try to fix the problem, but we are met with a great level of difficulty because people start to fight with the teams there to assist legal, paying customers. We send our teams with security – and not just light security,” he said.

“Whenever we remove illegal connections, they just reconnect; they just cut the legal power cables. They shoot at our people. It’s not just a problem or challenge. The community has declared war on us. The electricity department can only rely on law enforcement agencies to assist us,” he said.

His colleague, Deena Govender, the municipality’s manager for commercial engineering and marketing, said cable and electricity theft accounted for a two to three percent loss in the municipality’s annual turnover or R120 million a year.

Govender said the municipality battled to balance the needs of paying residents with appeasing shack dwellers. He said the municipality was “turning a blind eye” to illegal connections.

DA caucus leader Tex Collins said ignoring illegal connections was “ludicrous”.

“They can fly a kite if they think that I will pay my electricity bill now. Why should normal residents continue to pay while those who don’t and threaten violence get away with it? They should be locked up.

“Why should these illegal residents be given carte blanche to run this city into bankruptcy? It’s total anarchy. What next – will we be buying them cars?” said Collins.

Minority Front caucus leader Patrick Pillay said it was wrong to allow illegal connections because it gave people false hope.

A ratepayer in Shannon Drive, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from shack dwellers, said residents were fed up and scared. “How much more must we put up with? We pay our rates and for our electricity; yet we are being deprived. We are very vulnerable. All we ask is for an uninterrupted supply of electricity.”

Said another: “It is not fair for us to put up with this because the municipality cannot get its act together. It is their problem and they must not hide behind meetings, by-laws and red tape.”

Mtshali said although it was unfair for residents to be deprived of services they paid for, he disagreed with the municipal delivery of basic services. “Their processes are fraught with bureaucracy. That makes life unbearable for the have-nots. But something must be done, and we will engage the municipality,” he said. - Sunday Tribune

Coal employers, union reach deal to end strike
The Mercury 1 August 2011

South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Monday it had reached a wage deal with employers in the coal sector to end a week-long strike that threatened supplies to power plants in Africa's biggest economy.

“They are going to be signing the offer... the strike will be called off,” NUM's spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters. - Reuters

Wage talks aim to end gold, coal strikes
The Mercury 1 August 2011

Striking South African coal and gold miners' unions were set to meet employers for talks at the Chamber of Mines on Monday in a bid to end stoppages that have cost Africa's largest economy tens of millions of dollars in lost output.

The mounting impact of the country's yearly strike “season”, which has also hit the fuel, diamond and steel industries, was seen crimping growth in the quarter and possibly pushing an already stagnant economy into contraction.

Some 100,000 gold miners downed tools on Thursday, halting work at AngloGold Ashanti , Gold Fields and Harmony Gold at a time when bullion is at record highs. Tens of thousands of coal workers have been off for a week.

Analysts say gold mining groups are losing about $25 million a day in production.

Gold's run has been driven by its safe-haven status in the debt crises in Europe and America and analysts have said a prolonged strike in South Africa, the No. 4 producer of the precious metal, would help push bullion prices higher.

Spot gold was $1,615.80 an ounce by 12:42 SA time on Monday, compared with a record high of $1,632.30 on Friday.

Markets were also watching wage talks between unions and managers at Impala Platinum , the world's No. 2 producer of the precious metal, which were due to start around midday.

Impala and its larger rival Anglo American Platinum , which is also engaged in negotiations, together account for around two-thirds of global platinum output, so if strikes started there platinum prices are likely to rise.

Data on Monday highlighted the impact of strikes in South Africa as unions seeks increases of 10 to 15 percent, far above five percent inflation rate.

South Africa's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell for the fourth straight month in July, sponsor Kagiso Securities said on Monday. Kagiso said strike activity hit the business activity sub-index, which dropped nearly 20 points, and led to some of the PMI decline.

“It's very possible we'll see negative growth in the third quarter because of these unbelievable strikes. Something in the order of -0.5 percent. Already the economy is in a stagnant position,” said Chris Hart, an economist at Johannesburg-based Investment Solutions.

The economy grew by 4.8 percent in the first quarter but the central bank has already said that momentum will not be maintained in the second quarter. The current wave of strikes could slow things further in the third.

A fuel strike that interrupted business and sparked panic buying at the pumps ended last week, but when workers go back to their jobs in one industry, labour strife flares in another.

The series of strikes highlight the difficult position of the ruling African National Congress, which is keen to attract foreign investment but is in a governing alliance with unions.

Monday's gold talks were set to start in the morning but were delayed to the afternoon. Negotiators have narrowed the gap on gold wage negotiations, raising hopes of more progress, though neither side is predicting a breakthrough.

The NUM wants a 14 percent pay rise while the gold mine companies have offered rises of 7-9 percent.

A new round of talks to try to end the coal miners' strike may avert supply problems to utility Eskom , which provides almost all of South Africa's power and almost exclusively runs on coal.

Eskom has said it has around five weeks of stocks.

Analysts have said if the coal strike persists for at least another week, exports to Asia and Europe could be disrupted.

Coal firms affected include Anglo Thermal Coal SA , Exxaro, Optimum Coal and Xstrata Coal. - Reuters

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