The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents 64% of the country's mine workers, served gold producers with a notice today announcing they will start a strike from the nightshift of Sept. 3 after that sector’s wage talks broke down.
In a statement, the country’s Chamber of Mines said the strife will affect major companies including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (NYSE: AU), the world’s No. 3 bullion producer, Sibanye Gold Ltd. (NYSE: SBGL), Harmony Gold (LON: HRM) and Gold Fields Ltd. (NYSE: GFI). Their stocks were falling about 1% in average this morning at 9:30 ET.
After almost two months of negotiations, the parties remained far apart. On Wednesday, unions rejected the industry’s final offer to increase entry-level wages by 6.5%, significantly lower than the 60% demanded.
“This is it, this is our final offer,” Harmony’s chief executive, Graham Briggs, was quoted by Financial Times (subs. required) as saying. “There’s no money in the account. You can push your card into the ATM as often as you like, it’s still going to tell you there’s no money in the account,” he said on behalf of the country’s gold producers.
The chamber estimates the strike will lead to daily revenue losses of US$ 34 million and a total cost of nearly US$58 million a day.
South Africa is already dealing with strikes in several other sectors, including automotive, construction and aviation.
Petrol station workers are also set to embark on industrial action next week.
The government has called on the workers to ensure all strikes are peaceful, as labour disputes last year claimed up to 50 lives at South Africa’s mines.