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26 Aug 2008 13:36
South Africa’s biggest mineworkers’ union may call a strike at the jointly owned Two Rivers platinum mine over disputes which include wages, the union said on Tuesday.
Two Rivers is owned by the world’s second biggest platinum producer Impala Platinum (Implats) and African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) and produced platinum group metals in concentrate amounting to 184 099 ounces in 2007.
Doctor Matheso, a branch spokesperson for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), said in a statement the union had referred the disputes to arbitration authorities in a bid to seek its intervention on the issues of job grading and wages.
If the twin issues remain unresolved after meetings early next month, the NUM said it would ask its members to down tools.
Should the talks fail, the NUM would under South African law have to seek a certificate to call a strike, and give notice to Two Rivers’ management before they can hold their stayaway.
The NUM has demanded a wage increase of CPIX plus 6% while Two Rivers has offered 9,5%.
CPIX—consumer inflation excluding mortgage costs—was at 11,6% year-on-year in June.
Unions have been demanding wages to try and cope with inflation, which has soared above the targeted 3% to 6% band set by the country’s central bank.
ARM owns 55% of Two Rivers mine while the remaining 45% is held by Implats. The mine, located on the eastern limb of the platinum-rich Bushveld complex in the Mpumalanga province employs close to 800 workers.
“If solutions are not forthcoming, we will have no alternative but to marshal our forces for strike action,” said Matheso.
ARM, which manages Two Rivers on behalf of the joint owners, was not immediately available to comment.
Implats refines all the metals mined at the operation.
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