Johannesburg - South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers will give the country's gold producers a 48-hour strike notice on Friday, a spokesman said, paving the way for work stoppages from as early as Sunday night.
“We will issue a strike notice this afternoon, a few things are just being finalised,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters.
Wage talks between the NUM, which represents about 64 percent of the over 120 000 workers in gold mining, and the companies broke down last week.
The country's Chamber of Mines, which negotiates on behalf of gold producers, said on Tuesday it had made a final offer to unions to increase basic wages by between 6 and 6.5 percent.
NUM has been seeking a 60 percent increase while a more hardline rival wants pay hikes of up to 150 percent. The companies say these demands are unrealistic, given rising costs and falling bullion prices.
A complete shutdown of the gold sector could cost South Africa more than $35-million a day in lost output, according to calculations based on the spot price.
This will put pressure on a struggling economy already weighed down by a slew of ongoing strikes in auto manufacturing, construction and aviation services, and facing potential strikes from textile workers and petrol station employees.
South African unions by law must give employers a 48-hour strike notice and in the mining sector this is usually given on a Friday, so the strike can begin with the Sunday night shift when operations are due to resume following the weekend break. - Reuters