02 Members of The National Union of mine workers sing and dance before the launch of of NUM National congress. Picture Antoine de Ras: 28/05/09

Johannesburg - A pay strike is looming in the gold mines, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Thursday.

“Wage talks have deadlocked. A certificate of non-resolution has been issued,” said spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.

He said union members would be consulted on the negotiations, and balloted on a strike.

“The strike could be on next week. We have not yet served a notice to strike.”

The NUM is demanding R7000 a month for surface workers and R8000 for underground workers.

Gold producers represented at the Chamber of Mines said attempts were made to address some of the many demands that had been tabled by unions.

“The employers tabled a revised offer of six percent for category four and five employees, and for rock drill operators (RDOs),” said Charmane Russell on behalf of gold producers.

“In addition, the offer in respect of living-out or accommodation allowances will be increased in line with inflation.”

She said the offer would increase the basic wage for underground entry level employees to R5300 per month, and the living-out allowance to around R1730 per month.

“In terms of this offer, the guaranteed wage for entry level employees will be R9120 per month.”

She said the NUM and the United Association of SA (Uasa) had applied for a certificate of non-resolution, which had been issued by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration.

“The employers will continue to seek to engage with both unions.”

She said discussions with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and Solidarity would continue on August 26.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said they believed an agreement could be reached.

“The Chamber has not yet declared its final offer. The employer tabled a revised six percent for entry level and RODs, although the offer for skilled workers remained 5.5 percent, we hope an agreement could be reached.”

Du Plessis said the employer had met eight of the union's 10 demands.

“A strike action will not be in the interest of our members in view of the instability in the gold sector,” he said.

Amcu demanded R12,500 and Uasa an 18 percent increase. - Sapa