NUM strike after deadlock
About 50 workers at the Rio Tinto Exploration in Polokwane - part of Rio Tinto, the third- largest diamond mining house in the world - yesterday went on strike after a deadlock over wages, housing and travel allowances.
The workers, all members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), are demanding a 9percent wage hike. Management is offering 6percent.
Shop steward Puleng Ramano told Sowetan that talks had deadlocked after lengthy negotiations. Workers were also demanding a monthly housing allowance of R1300 and a monthly R800 travel allowance, according to Ramano.
This is opposed to the company's offer of a R600 yearly housing allowance, which would be paid over a two-year period, and a R400 yearly travel allowance.
The company's offer, said Ramano, means that the workers are being offered, during the first year, yearly allowances of R300 and R200 in housing and travel, respectively.
"This is laughable because if you were to divide the amount by 12 months you get a paltry R25 and just over R16 monthly allowances for housing and travel in the first year, respectively, and R50 and just over R32 for the next year. We think that our demands are not unreasonable," Ramano said.
The company's southern Africa exploration manager, Jonte Beswick, confirmed the strike, saying it arose from the dispute over the provision of allowances "over and above the all-inclusive total remuneration package currently provided".
He said about 35 workers were currently on strike.
"Rio Tinto is committed to resolving this dispute as quickly as possible. Negotiations were still under way yesterday, and as part of our efforts we have offered NUM the option of mediation," said Beswick.