A stracker machine loads coal mined to a conveyor belt at stock pile area at an open pit coal mine Bloomberg

Johannesburg - Thousands of striking coal-mine workers are expected to return to work on Wednesday after a two-year wage increase agreement was signed by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and coal producers.

NUM’s 30 000 members embarked on a wage strike last week following the issuing of a non-resolution certificate by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The union demanded a R1 000 increase for lower-level workers, while the coal producers, including Anglo Coal, Glencore and Exxaro Coal, offered a wage increase of between R300 and R600.

The employer body, the Chamber of Mines, tabled a revised offer, which the union agreed to on Tuesday.

The agreement would see most workers in categories 4 to 8 receive increases, staggered over a period of time, of between R750 and R1 000 per month in Year 1 and guaranteed increases of 7.5 percent in the second year.

Employees in the higher categories would receive increases of between 5.0 percent and 7.5 percent in both years.

Increases on living-out allowances and housing allowances would vary from company to company, the chamber said.