Johannesburg - Trade union Solidarity has expressed disappointment at the Chamber of Mines' pay offer to workers in the coal industry.
The chamber's 5.6 percent offer was declined because it fell short of the union's 10 percent demand that applied to other benefits, union general secretary Gideon du Plessis said on Monday.
“The housing and living-out allowance is a burning issue for Solidarity's members and today's offer regarding this issue is unacceptable,” Du Plessis said.
The rejection follows wage negotiations for the coal sector, opened in July after a two-year standing agreement lapsed at the end of last month.
“A deadlock in negotiations led to a strike two years ago. The coal industry is experiencing greater financial and labour stability and this stability will hopefully have a positive effect on the further progress of the negotiations (this year).”
Du Plessis stressed it was imperative that a negotiated settlement be reached as soon as possible, to prevent disruptions in other sectors.
“The outcome of negotiations in the coal industry has a ripple effect on the electricity giant Eskom's activities (because of its) interdependence (on coal).”
Although the current offer was unsatisfactory, the union indicated the chamber was eager to reach a settlement.
“This offer compared to the offer given to workers in the gold sector, of four percent, is a lot better. There are still inconsistencies that need to be sorted out regarding the housing allowance which has caused disparity in the industry.”
Du Plessis said the ball was back in the chamber's court to present a revised offer at a meeting scheduled for August 2. Trade unions United Association of SA and the National Union of Mineworkers were expected to attend the gathering. - Sapa