SOUTH AFRICA On Aug. 7, the union representing 100,000 South African gold miners began a strike that has effectively shut down production in that country. The National Union of Mineworkers was demanding a 7-8% wage increase compared with the 5-6% offered by the major producers.
PLACER DOME, which owns 50% of the South Deeps mine, is only one of the Canadian companies affected by the strike. BEMA GOLD (Petrex) and CALEDONIA MINING (Barbrook) also have producing gold mines in South Africa. And there are a handful of other Canadian companies exploring in South Africa.
Then on Aug. 9, the 10,000 members of the Solidarity Trade Union walked off the job in sympathy with the gold miners. Together Solidarity and the Mineworkers rejected an offer of 4.5-5.0% made by the South African Chamber of Mines, and the unions are reported to be asking for a wage increase of 10-12%.
This is the first industry-wide strike by gold miners in 18 years. Under South African labour rules, workers responsible for essential services must continue to report to work.