South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Wednesday said that wage negotiations with Kumba Iron Ore, owned by Anglo American, were deadlocked and the union had declared a dispute, a move that is one step short of a strike.
NUM, the majority union at Kumba, said the company had agreed a wage increase of 8% for the lowest-paid workers and 6.5% for the highest-paid, but the two parties had disagreed over sick leave.
“The company policy on sick leave provides workers with 120 days. To our dismay, in a round of negotiations, the company wants to do away with the benefit,” the NUM said in a statement.
The union’s declaration of a dispute means that a protected strike could go ahead if conciliation talks between the parties mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration fail to break the impasse.
Kumba, which has mining operations in the Northern Cape province and a port operation in Saldanha Bay, said it was continuing negotiations with NUM.
“We trust that we will be able to reach an amicable solution soon, which will be in the best interest of both the employees and the company,” Kumba Iron Ore said in an emailed statement.
Negotiations with the two other unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and Solidarity, which are representated at Kumba’s operations, have been concluded.