Women mineworkers during a recent march to the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg to demand wage equality and better conditions.

Women mineworkers during a recent march to the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg to demand wage equality and better conditions.

South Africa: Coalminers give notice to strike


Coalminers in South Africa belonging to IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), will give notice to strike on 16 November after wage negotiations with the Chamber of Mines have reached a deadlock. Miners were demanding a one off payment of US$77. Further, they wanted an eight per cent increase in 2018, and nine per cent in 2019.

The NUM is also insisting that they will only sign a three-year agreement with the Chamber of Mines if it remains committed to the Collective Bargaining Forum.

“Settling with unions at company level promotes competition and inter-union rivalry at the expense of workers’ unity. It divides workers and sometimes breeds violence between unions, thus weakening union power,” NUM said in a statement defending its continued fight for centralized collective bargaining that included unions, employers and the government.

At the negotiations, the Chamber of Mines represented coal companies including Anglo American, Glencore Operations SA, Msobo, Delmas, Exarro, Kangra and others. However, nothing came out after months of negotiations. Taking the matters to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration did not help either.

The NUM represents 70 per cent of the unionized coalminers. According to the Chamber of Mines the coal sector employed over 87 000 workers, and was the third largest employer after gold and the platinum group metals.

StatsSA also reported that jobs were being created along the coal mining value chain including in lignite which employed over 6000 workers. Other jobs were in the coal-to-chemical producers where SASOL employed thousands.

More jobs were in the energy sector as 77 per cent of South Africa’s energy was generated from coal.

The NUM said the employers were not committed to improving the lives of the coalminers. “The Chamber of Mines continues to be arrogant and negotiating in bad faith. The NUM is determined to force the companies to lend an ear to its wage demands”.

Fabian Nkomo, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa said:

“We always hope that negotiations will lead to collective bargaining agreements but when that does not happen workers go on strike to push for their demands. We support their actions and are convinced that workers should always fight for fair and living wages.”