Two SA gold miners reach settlements

Hopes of a quick end to the strike currently hitting South Africa's gold sector are high after two gold miners - Pan African Resources and Village Main Reef - reached agreements with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and United Association of South Africa (Uasa) ending strikes at their Evander and Tau Lekoa mines respectively.

According to reports, the settlement involves an offer of an eight percent increase in basic wage for category 4 and 5 employees and a 7.5 percent increase in basic wage for category 6-8 employees, miners and artisans, and officials.

The agreement comes after 80,000 members of the South African NUM started a country-wide strike on Tuesday.

The NUM is calling for an increase of R2300 for surface and opencast miners and R3000 for underground miners (an increase of around 10 percent), down significantly from earlier demands for increases of up to 60 percent for some workers.

Last week workers rejected an offer of a 6.5 percent rise - the same as the current annual rate of inflation.

"The NUM is determined to pursue its demands for an increase of R2300 for surface and opencast miners and R3000 for underground miners," NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said in a statement. "The NUM has not been willing to undergo industrial action but given the arrogance of the captains of the gold mining industry, the union is forced to embark on nationwide industrial action that will change the gold mining landscape forever. The captains of the industry have continuously awarded themselves huge bonuses with Gold Fields CEO getting R45 million per annum last year."

President Jacob Zuma has urged both sides to find a solution, saying: "A strike hurts both sides."

"The union is aware of the devastating impact industrial action would have on the economy which is largely a white man's economy with no benefits for poor black mineworkers," Seshoka added. "The union reiterates its position of rejecting with contempt slave wages as represented by an increase of a meagre 6.5 percent or R300 per month."

The NUM represents about 65 percent of South Africa's 120,000 gold miners.

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