Wage talks in coal sector hit a deadlock

NUM says the employer returned to the negotiating table empty-handed after it rejected their offer.

FILE: Workers want pay increases of up to 15 percent, while the Chamber of Mines had offered a revised wage rise from its initial offer of between 4 and 6,5 percent. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Wage negotiations between workers in the coal sector and the Chamber of Mines have reached deadlock and will now go to mediation.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says the employer returned to the negotiating table empty-handed after it rejected their offer.

Workers want pay increases of up to 15 percent, while the chamber, which represents firms such as Glencore, Anglo American Coal and Exxaro, had offered a revised wage rise from its initial offer of between 4 and 6,5 percent.

The union's Peter Bailey said, "We have commonly declared a dispute today with the Chamber of Mines. Their offer of between 4 and 6,5 percent has been rejected by our members and they feel strongly that the time has come for us to declare a dispute."

Meanwhile, Gold companies represented by the Chamber of Mines say their offer to increase the wages of entry level workers by between nine and 18 percent is final and have denied claims they're mistreating miners.

Earlier today, mining union Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) rejected the claim that gold companies cannot afford to meet its demand for a basic wage of R12,500.

The union further accused mines of under-paying workers.

But mining houses say they've been generous in their offer and are disappointed by the lack of progress during talks held today.

Spokesperson for the mines Charmane Russel said, "Our initial response is disappointment that such serious claims would be made on the basis on vague allegations. Our response is that companies [should] comply with the law and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act."