80,000 to down tools in gold sector

The NUM says it has been forced to call a strike due to the Chamber of Mine's low offer.

Around 80,000 workers will down tools in the gold mining sector. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Around 80,000 workers will down tools in the gold mining sector today as the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) begins its strike for higher wages.

The industrial action follows unsuccessful talks between the union and the Chamber of Mines at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) where the employers' final offer of just over 6 percent was tabled.

The NUM is demanding upwards of 60 percent.

The NUM's spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the union has been forced to call a strike due to the low wage offer.

"We don't believe the chamber's offer of between 6 and 6.5 percent are the right figures especially because it's equivalent to an increase of only R300 per month."

Trade union Solidarity has thrown its support behind the mass action.

"Our members must support the NUM whilst on strike by not doing the work of the NUM members to ensure the NUM strike is successful," said the union's Gideon du Plessis.

Gold companies are expected to lose millions of Rands per day as a result of the strike which could last for at least three weeks.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the United Association of South Africa are yet to decide on the chamber's offer.

Meanwhile, the chamber's chief negotiator Elize Strydom said she believed their wage offer was fair considering "the financial realities within which the mining industry finds itself."

The NUM is the first mining union to go on strike over wages this year.