South Africa's wildcat strikes reach Harmony Gold

South Africa's third-largest gold producer after AngloGold and Gold Fields Ltd., Harmony Gold Ltd. (JSE:HAR), said Wednesday that workers at its Kusasalethu mine had begun to strike.

"We urge our employees to honour existing collective agreements entered into through the Chamber of Mines as well as existing bargaining structures, " said in a statement CEO Graham Briggs.

"I encourage all employees who have embarked on this unlawful strike to act in a safe, responsible and peaceful manner, and to engage through the established lawful channels,” he added.

As many as 75,000 miners, or 15% of the sector's workers in South Africa, are now on wildcat strikes after around 300 employees at Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine downed tools on Wednesday.

At the heart of the non-stopping labour unrest hitting South Africa there is something far more complex than low salaries, writes analyst Michelle Smith.

With a democracy less than 20 years old, the struggles of apartheid and the promises made at its end remain fresh. Mine workers view themselves as working in a profitable, dangerous industry. They tend to be frustrated by the government, which they believe has short-changed them, and with unions, which they see as more concerned with brushing shoulders with business leaders and politicians than representing their members’ deplorable living conditions.

In the meantime, another union, the South African Transport and Allied Workers (Satawu) have also gone on an indefinite strike demanding wage increases.

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