Strike looming at X-strata chrome company over wages.

DATE : 13 July 2005



The wage talks between the National Union Of Metalworkers Of South Africa (NUMSA) and the X-Strata chrome making multinational company based at Rustenburg reached an impasse. This follows the company offer of 8,75% and the union demand of 10% for the lowest paid workers. The union is also demanding a two year agreement, one hour meeting every month and upgrading of skills for the lowest paid workers. The parties will meet again on the 26th July 2005 for conciliation under the Engineering Bargaining Council. The wage talks cover for 1300 workers. Workers have vowed to strike if all means to resolve the deadlock fail.

The reason why workers are opposed to the company wage offer of 8,75% is the fact that it prejudices their benefits and does not attempt to close wage differentials between grades. It remain limited in addressing skewed skills wage disparities. The 10% wage demand is quite reasonable in the current circumstances. Workers are determined to correct the situation otherwise employers will have a leeway to do things, as they like.

The parties failed to resolve the impasse because the company was considering costs rather than benefits. It is our assertion that favourable benefits must be considered before the issue of costs. The company resorted to tricks and irrational arguments about inflation in addressing the concern of workers. It is our view that the company is not taking the matter seriously. This will anger workers to embark on the strike action. The company fails to acknowledge that the chrome industry is a dangerous and stressful place to work and for purposes of health, safety and general individual well being, workers need proper standards to minimize the risk of dust related infections. This becomes important in the chrome industry and the current trend of upward production, the health and safety of workers must not be compromised.

For more information contact Dumisa Ntuli at (011) 689 -1700 or 0829737282