End in sight for gold sector strike

The National Union of Mineworkers says it's optimistic the gold sector strike will end today.

Gold sector strike could end today.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says it's optimistic a strike by 80,000 workers in the gold sector will end today.

The Num members downed tools for higher wages on Tuesday demanding a basic wage of between R6,000 - R7,000.

Yesterday, the Chamber of Mines tabled a revised offer after the Num said it was willing to compromise.

The union's Lesiba Seshoka says negotiations went late into Thursday night, but a settlement had not yet been reached.

"We are still consulting with them, there is no decision yet, but we are quite hopeful that by the end of today we may have a decision."

The unions and the chamber have been engaged in wage negotiations for a number of months.

Analysts have warned that strikes will increase as the Rand weakens.

Last month, the Rand plummeted to its lowest level against the US Dollar in four years passing the R10.50 to the US Dollar mark though it has since strengthened to around R10.35.

STRIKES INCREASING ANNUALLY

Meanwhile, an expert agency on South Africa's labour relations says strike action has grown bigger and longer over the past five years and shows no signs of slowing down.

Andrew Levy of Andrew Levy Employment told delegates at the Mining Lekgotla in Sandton last week that strikes will continue to limit the country's productivity.

Levy said SA remained relatively strike free for the first 10 years after 1994, but since then, labour relations have deteriorated.

"Generally speaking, it goes down from the passage of the New Labour Relations Act, but round about 2003/2004, it begins to increase."

Levy says his agency expects more strikes this year and doesn't think the trend will slow down.

"The forecast shows a strong, steady and steep rise."

He warned that unless labour reform is implemented, the industry's landscape won't improve and the strikes will have an even worse effect.