CityPress - - Business - XOLANI MBANJWA xolani.mbanjwa@city­press.co.za

co­nomic an­a­lysts have agreed with the as­ser­tion by gold pro­duc­ers and unions that most of the 100 000 mine work­ers in the in­dus­try do not have an ap­petite for a strike that would see com­pa­nies im­ple­ment­ing the no-work, no-pay prin­ci­ple on al­ready overindebted mine work­ers.

But with unions mak­ing de­mands for wage in­creases of up to 100% for the low­est-paid mine work­ers, and an­a­lysts es­ti­mat­ing that gold pro­duc­ers might ta­ble a wage in­crease of­fer be­tween 5% and 6% to­mor­row when talks re­sume, fears re­main that the par­ties will not be able to bridge the gulf be­tween them.

And this raises the spec­tre of in­dus­trial ac­tion, which would cer­tainly af­fect the coun­try’s al­ready fal­ter­ing econ­omy.

Min­ing an­a­lyst Peter Ma­jor ap­pealed to unions and gold pro­duc­ers meet­ing at the Cham­ber of Mines in Joburg to­mor­row to avoid a strike at all cost, be­cause this could halve the coun­try’s eco­nomic growth fore­casts, re­cently pegged at 2% for this year, to a mere 1%.

“I don’t think there’s an ap­petite for a strike – mine work­ers are in­debted and go­ing with­out an in­come is un­think­able for some of them. If you look at how the plat­inum strike af­fected those who were in­debted, it is clear no worker re­ally wants to strike,” said Ma­jor.

“A sus­tain­able set­tle­ment is a must be­cause gold prices are fall­ing and mines are in a weak­ened state. More­over, mine work­ers have seen how huge de­mands have led to job losses else­where in the min­ing sec­tor. The union’s de­mands are in­sane be­cause the mines to­day are pro­duc­ing 150 000 tons per year, the same [low] amount of gold per year that was pro­duced more than 60 years ago.”

Re­search by credit bureau Com­pus­can showed that af­ter last year’s dev­as­tat­ing five­month-long plat­inum sec­tor strike, the per­cent­age of mine work­ers who owed more than R100 000 in ac­cu­mu­lated debt and were a month over­due in pay­ments rose from 73% to 88%.

Min­ing an­a­lyst Peter Wor­thing­ton from Bar­clays said he was also un­sure if mine work­ers would want to em­bark on strike ac­tion af­ter see­ing the fi­nan­cial dev­as­ta­tion of the plat­inum strike last year on work­ers in that sec­tor.

“At the mo­ment, we’ve got two sides that are very

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