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South African strike season is in full swing

July 29, 2011

In South Africa, unions are beginning to seek wage increases, during what the locals affectionately refer to as "strike season." Some strikes have already been staged and ended, and thus far the typical salary increase has been about 7.5 percent, a slight drop from the 8.2 percent that was granted last year, Reuters reports. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is staging strikes at coal mines, and plans more at gold and platinum mines and Eskom, the state power utility.

Strikes are imminent at gold mines, where nearly 100,000 union workers plan to cease work until they are given a 14 percent raise, but their employers have only offered 7 to 9 percent increases. The Sydney Morning Herald states that the strike could cost the mines nearly $25 million per day in lost output.

"There will be a total shutdown of the entire gold mining industry for it is inconceivable how the industry could want to give workers and increment of 7 percent when the gold price is at a record high," said an NUM statement, according to the news source.

Family members of union workers who are outside the country for business or school can use international phone cards to call home and see how the negotiations are going.

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