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South Africa: Mining unions extend strike over pay rise demands

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Striking miners at South Africa’s second largest gold producer, Sibanye-Stillwater, say they are extending their strike until they get a pay rise.

Thousands of workers have been demanding a 63 US dollars which is about 1000 rands monthly increase for two months.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Miners (NUM), which represents nearly 30,000 employees, declared a strike on March 9 after negotiations with the mining group’s management failed.

Miners last weekend booed President Cyril Ramaphosa out of the May Day celebrations. Ramaphosa who had to cut short his speech and evacuated out of the scene later acknowledged a “loss of confidence” among the middle class.

The strikers have not been paid since March 9, and have lost about 63 million dollars in wages.

Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. have alleged that the almost two-month long strike at its South African gold mines is being used as leverage by labor unions for upcoming wage negotiations at its platinum operations. Its first-quarter gold output plunged 45% to about 137,000 ounces, a fall out of the strike.

The miners, are entering pivotal talks over a multiyear pay deal after announcing record dividends following a rally in palladium and rhodium prices. 

While unions are seeking a share of the profits, producers have warned that any settlement with 163,000 platinum workers must not risk the long-term viability of a key export industry.