Johannesburg - South African coal producers have made a revised above-inflation wage offer to employees, a document seen by Reuters showed on Friday, raising hopes of a pay rise agreement in the sector without industrial action.
The producers, which include units of global mining giants Anglo American and Glencore, made a “final” offer of pay hikes ranging between 7 and 11 percent, above consumer inflation which was at 6.4 percent in August.
The offer says salaries will increase by inflation plus 1 percent in 2014, with a guaranteed minimum of 7.5 percent.
The Solidarity trade union and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said the workers had until Monday to accept, reject or propose changes to the offer.
“We can't say anything until our members have spoken,” Frans Baleni, General Secretary of NUM, said.
NUM had initially sought wage hikes of up to 60 percent for entry-level workers and 15 percent for other categories but Baleni said on Wednesday the union had “modified” its demands.
Solidarity had been seeking increases of around 10 percent.
A quick resolution this month to a gold strike, with NUM accepting a salary increase of around 8 percent, has raised hopes that such action can be averted in the coal fields.
A coal strike would be further bad news for Africa's largest economy, which was hit by the brief gold stoppage and a far more serious one in the auto-making sector that cost companies $2-billion in lost revenue.
A protracted coal strike, which could affect supplies to state power utility Eskom, does not seem likely.
The Chamber of Mines is negotiating on behalf of several coal producers and about 20 000 unionised workers are involved in the talks. - Reuters