South African miners strike for 12.5%

GIWUSA miners picketing the Annesley Andalusite Mine in Penge, in Limpopo province

Workers from the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA) started strike action at the Annesley Andalusite Mine located in Penge, outside Burgersfort in Limpopo on Wednesday.

They are demanding a 12.5 per cent salary increase, improved working conditions, and compensation for overtime, among other demands.

However, the employer is offering only a 6.5 per cent salary raise.

The impasse between the workers and the employer resulted in the workers downing their tools following unsuccessful negotiations at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA.)

Workers representing the miners stress the necessity of a livable wage due to the soaring cost of living.

GIWUSA deputy secretary general Tshokolo Mokoena said: ‘Since I was working here from 2010 we are earning low money.

‘Our basic pay is not reaching 10,000 rands. At least if we can get the basic salary to 10,000 rands because nowadays our children have a lot of demands and, even us, we have a lot of demands.

‘We need the12% increase and conops (concept of operations) allowance and night shift allowances and housing allowances until everything is done.’

Despite attempts to obtain a comment from the Imerys mining company, the owner of Annesley Andalusite Mine, no response has been received as yet.

GIWUSA secretary general Teddy Thobakgale said that although the mine is profitable, it refuses to adequately compensate its workers.

Thobakgale stated: ‘We have tabled the demands. Initially, they were proposals but now they have reached a state whereby they have become demands after we have reported them at the CCMA.

‘The demands were for a 12.5 per cent increase.

‘Then the other one we are demanding is a job grading processes for employees that are working in the mine, for fair remuneration, because currently where we are, we are struggling because we realised that those that are working in the mine are just remunerated based on favour.’

Public sector unions, including the Public Servants Association (PSA), have said that they will ballot again for strike action across South Africa, after they were awarded a 4.7 per cent pay rise which is much lower than they are demanding

The PSA said that it is going back to their members from June to seek a new mandate ahead of further ANC government wage negotiations starting in September for the financial year 2025-26.

The Department of Public Service and Administration has announced that civil servants will receive a 4.7 per cent salary increase from next month.

The increase is part of a two-year wage deal signed with by public sector trade unions.

Public Servants Association’s General Manager Reuben Maleka says the current wage increase will not do much under the current economic conditions.

Maleka said: ‘The 4.7 per cent is not a resolution and under the current economic climate, we don’t think it is adequate.

‘We will see what our members think.

‘This is only for 2023-24 which we have not agreed to.

‘We will be starting with negotiations from September for 2025-26 to ensure that the mid-term budget of October covers our demand for next financial year.’

Meanwhile, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have failed to reach agreement over a wage increase for the 2023-24 financial year

The CWU has now said that it will ballot its members over taking strike action.

As of 8th March 2024, the CCMA has issued the default picketing rules, which are yet to be signed by both parties before a certificate of non-resolution can be issued.

The SABC claims that it overstretched its financial reserves to meet the requests of organised labour and that it cannot pay its workforce the 9 per cent pay rise that they are demanding.

However, unions at the broadcaster, which is nationalised and funded by a budget provided by the ANC government, have said that more money must be provided for the SABC.

Meanwhile, another trade union is set to take strike action at the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality which includes the city of Durban.

The Municipal and Allied Trade Union of South Africa (MATUSA) has been given permission by a court in Durban to take the action and will ballot its members who are expected to vote in favour of it.

MATUSA has not yet said when the strike action would take place but if the strike goes ahead it will follow another union South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) who have taken strike action several times since October 2023.

Power outages and water cuts have continued in the area for two weeks following the last SAMWU strike which took place at the beginning of March.

Rubbish has piled up on the streets across eThekwini, and some essential services have not been available. The services affected include housing and social care.

Telecommunications company Vodacom the South African arm of Vodafone says the company is undergoing an operational review where at least 80 employees will be affected.

This in a bid to streamline key functions and maintain its competitive edge.

It’s reported that the job cuts will be across various levels, including senior management.

Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) spokesperson Matthew Parks said they will pursue all alternatives to sackings.

He says they will intervene to stop this from taking effect.

‘We think this is unacceptable for a company which is making huge profits, which pays it’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) million and millions of rands.

‘Sacking 80 workers might seem like a small amount of workers for a very large company like Vodacom, but it will plunge those families into absolute poverty.

‘The Labour Relations Act requires companies to look at alternatives (and) to engage the workers and unions in good faith on alternatives, Vodacom has not done this.

‘Cosatu will be supporting the CWU to try to intervene and to halt an unacceptable attack on workers’ jobs.’