NUM strike could cost R10bn

The Cape Chamber of Commerce says the gold sector strike could be the most costly ever.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is preparing for a mass strike set to kick off on Tuesday evening.

The industrial action will see more than 80,000 gold miners down tools.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the strike is expected to cost almost double the money compared to last year's mining strike which added up to about R6 billion in terms of tax revenue.

The chamber's Michael Bagraim says if the strike continues for more than two weeks, South Africa stands to lose more than R10 billion.

The NUM is determined to fight for wage increases of more than 60 percent, saying mining companies have no excuses, especially when employers are earning unacceptably high salaries.

Union spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka says mineworkers in the gold sector want their salaries to be increased by between R2,000 and R3,000 per month.

"They can't tell us that they can't afford to pay and they can't afford a strike, they must afford one of them. In our view, they've clearly chosen to afford the strike."

But Bagraim argues that companies can't afford such massive increases, saying, "It's absolutely unsustainable, it's almost a joke."

He says the demands are unrealistic and miners themselves are going to be the victims when they are left without an income.