/ 21 July 2011

State of the (striking) nation

Strike season is in full swing. Here’s a breakdown of which industry sectors are experiencing strike action this weekend.

Mining: On Friday July 22 the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at De Beers Consolidated Mines was set to down tools after the union declined a 7.5% wage offer. The union is demanding a 15% wage increase. Meanwhile, the union’s workers in the coal sector will also go on strike next week, after the union was granted a certificate of non-resolution by the CCMA after talks reached a deadlock. The union is demanding a 14% wage increase while the employer is offering between 7% and 8.5%.

The gold industry resumes negotiations next week after talks deadlocked on July 13. The National Chamber of Mines, negotiating on behalf of AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold and Goldfields, is offering between 5% and 5.5% while the NUM and United Association of SA (Uasa) are demanding a 14% increase. Solidarity is demanding 12%.

Energy: The NUM rejected a 5.5% wage increase offer by Eskom on Wednesday and on Thursday parties returned to the negotiating table. The union is demanding a 16% increase. Solidarity, meanwhile, is still in talks with Eskom and it said this week that negotiations would gain momentum in the coming weeks.

Petroleum: Solidarity suspended its strike on Wednesday after a new wage offer of between 8% to 10%, depending on an employee’s level. But the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu), which is the biggest union in the sector, announced on Thursday that its members had rejected the offer, which would have put to the end a two week strike action. The union is demanding a 13% wage increase.

Public sector:
Public sector unions were to convene on Friday to consider an informal “facilitatory” offer of an 6.8% increase. The unions are asking for 8%, don from an initial demand of 10%, but want issues relating to a new housing scheme and medical aid subsidy to be finalised before signing any agreement.

The South Africa Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) is still consulting with its members on a 6.08% offer and a 7.5% proposal by the facilitator. The workers are demanding an 18% wage increase. The union will convene next week to reassess its position before the next round of negotiations begins.

Metal and engineering industry: After initially declaring a dispute with the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council (MEIBC) last month over annual increases of 4.1% over the next five years, on Monday both the NUM and Solidarity signed a wage settlement that put an end to a two week strike. Solidarity settled on an 8% to 10% increase, while the National Union of Metalworkers in South Africa (Numsa) settled on a 10% increase.