Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

THE National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is planning to raise the issue of wages in the coal and gold mining sectors at a meeting with the Chamber of Mines.

At the same time, Lonmin has come out in support of the formation of a centralised bargaining council in the platinum industry.

Mineworkers at Gold Fields mining operations west of the Kloof Driefontein Complex in Carletonville, refused to return to work until they are paid a salary of R12,500 a month after deductions. The strike is now in its 12th day.

So far, it has cost the world’s fourth-largest gold producer an estimated 14,500 ounces of gold production.

NUM president Senzeni Zokwana said the union was meeting with the Chamber of Mines today to discuss the demands. "We are meeting with the chambers to present the challenges we are faced with ."

Meanwhile, Lonmin acting CEO Simon Scott yesterday reiterated that the company hoped to return to collective bargaining. The wage agreement brokered on Tuesday ended the strike, which caused the deaths of 46 people, but was negotiated outside the established collective bargaining structures.

The 11%-22% increase Lonmin agreed to has raised fears in many quarters that it could spark similar illegal strikes at other mines.

NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said yesterday on the sidelines of the Cosatu congress that the union was getting calls from members in the coal, platinum and gold sectors who wanted similar pay rises.

Speaking at his company’s briefing yesterday, Mr Scott said Lonmin’s settlement with the striking workers had taken place under "extraordinary circumstances". The finances of the mine, relations with bargaining partners and the "social fabric of SA" were threatened.

The outcome was financially manageable for Lonmin and the negotiations, which took place outside bargaining frameworks, had not broken any laws.

Mr Scott said discussions were continuing within the Chamber of Mines regarding the establishment of a centralised bargaining in the platinum sector to prevent future strikes from leading to "violence and lawlessness".

The NUM, which is losing members at platinum mines, is expected to support the push for a more centralised process in the sector.

Meanwhile, Anglo American Platinum said only 20% of its nearly 26,000 workers had returned to work yesterday amid a continuing strike. It had given the workers until last night’s nigh shift to return to work failing which it would take legal action against them.

With Sapa