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Mine workers return to work at Richards Bay Minerals

Published Sep 3, 2010

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Richards Bay Minerals, a Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton titanium joint venture, on Friday resumed full production after workers ended a week-long pay strike, a company official said.

Spokeswoman Nthabiseng Motsepe said the 586 workers represented by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at RMB had all returned to work following the signing of a pay rise agreement by the company and the union.

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"The agreement was signed today. All workers are back at work, and operations are in full swing," Motsepe told Reuters.

South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, has been hit by a wave of strikes and strike threats in both the private and public sectors, which have led to above-inflation settlements and stoked fears that the cost of living will rise.

The country's inflation rate slowed to a four-year low of 3.7 percent in July.

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RBM said it had agreed an 8 percent pay rise with the NUM for 2010 and a guaranteed 7 percent increase each for 2011 and 2012.

The company said the strike had not hurt its production because it had put in place a contingency plan to mitigate effects of the industrial action.

The NUM, which plans a strike at Northam Platinum on Monday following a pay dispute, is also holding fresh negotiations with diversified miner Exxaro after initial pay talks collapsed.

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NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the strike at Northam would go ahead as planned.

"There have been no further talks and the strike will go on," Seshoka said.

Exxaro and Northam were both not immediately available to comment.

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Exxaro is offering an 8 percent wage increase, while the union is demanding a 14 percent pay rise.

Northam has offered workers an 8 percent increase on a two-year deal. The NUM is demanding a 15 percent wage rise. - Reuters

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