NUM signs Chamber wage deal

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

The first day of a strike by members of the Solidarity trade union had not destabilised mining operations, the Chamber of Mines said yesterday.

Chamber spokesman, Jabu Maphalala, said the strike had had "little effect" on coal production.

"There were different levels of participation at different mines, but production at all mines is continuing," said Maphalala.

About 3500 Solidarity members downed tools yesterday in protest against low salaries for skilled workers.

The workers are demanding a 10percent increase for artisans, who include technical staff such as boilermakers and electricians.

The chamber has offered a 10percent increase for its lowest-paid workers and an increase of between 7,5percent and 8,5percent for skilled workers.

The National Union of Mineworkers, which represents the majority of mine workers, accepted the offer and did not participate in the strike.

Only Solidarity members have not signed the offer.

NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said its members were satisfied with the increases.

Solidarity spokesman Jaco Kleynhans said poor pay for artisans was the main reason for skills shortages in the mining sector.

"Where skilled workers receive bad salaries, they move to other industries," he warned.

"Artisans normally earn between R9300 and R9600. A 10percent hike would increase their salaries to between R10230 and R10560," said Kleynhans.

He said the union's demand was justified because of the "huge growth" in profits and production in the industry.

"The coal mining industry can afford a 10percent hike."

The Chamber of Mines' offer also includes improved housing allowances, family responsibility leave, sick leave and medical aid benefits.