South African mine union says ballot rule to curb ‘wild strikes’

Companies are seeking mediation in the negotiations with AMCU, the largest union in South Africa’s platinum industry.

As wage negotiations with some South African platinum producers reach deadlock, one labor union welcomed a new rule for any strike to require backing from workers in a secret ballot.

During the 2014 platinum strike, led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, one mining boss called for such ballots to increase transparency. Smaller union UASA said the new rule, which came into effect on Jan. 1, would help prevent prolonged and pointless strikes.

“The new rules will bring an end to wild strikes without member consultations in various industries where union leaders were out to settle personal goals using the union’s name,” UASA said Thursday in a statement on its website.

The statement from UASA comes after the more militant AMCU declared a dispute in pay talks with Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Sibanye Gold Ltd. The companies are seeking mediation in the negotiations with AMCU, the largest union in South Africa’s platinum industry.

UASA said it started secret balloting of its members by text message before the change in the law.

(By Paul Burkhardt)

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