Members of the National Union of Mineworkers began the strike on Tuesday evening, severely affecting production in the struggling industry.
A strike by tens of thousands of South African gold miners on Wednesday severely affected production in the struggling industry. There were no reports of violence and two mining companies reached a settlement with their workers.
The strike started on Tuesday evening. The National Union of Mineworkers, which says it represents more than 80,000 miners in the gold sector, initially said it was demanding wage increases of up to 60 per cent, about 10 times the offer made by gold mining companies.
The Chamber of Mines, which represents industry employers, said gold producers Pan African Resources and Village Main Reef had reached agreement with union leaders at two mines for wage increases of up to 8 per cent.
“That the producers and the unions can find one another in the interests of preserving these operations indicates our mutual desire to achieve an affordable and sustainable settlement,” Elize Strydom, the chamber’s chief negotiator, said in a statement.
Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers, said the two settlements would not have an impact on protests at other mines.
“We just said we would be willing to ease our demands, but it must be a double-digit increase that is worth the workers’ while,” the South African Press Association quoted Mr. Seshoka as saying.
Another gold-mining operation, Harmony, said the strike had heavily affected most of its operations but that it continued to engage with unions to reach a settlement.
“We are encouraged by the responsible and peaceful conduct of employees engaged in the strike, and urge all parties to uphold the law and all agreements,” said Graham Briggs, Harmony’s chief executive officer.
President Jacob Zuma has urged both sides to reach agreements. South Africa’s mining industry has been hit by rising costs, diminishing production and labour unrest in recent years.
Some 46 people were killed during a six-week period of labour unrest last year over wages at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana, northwest of Johannesburg. In one incident, police fired into striking miners near the Marikana mine on August 16, killing 34 people and prompting an official inquiry that is still underway.
Keywords: South Africa gold miners' strike, National Union of Mineworkers, Chamber of Mines, Pan African Resources and Village Main Reef, Lesiba Seshoka, Harmony gold mining company, President Jacob Zuma