Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

On Friday, mining company South32 said it had reached an agreement with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) regarding wages for employees at the Hillside aluminium smelter.

More than 600 Numsa members had been on strike since Saturday‚ demanding a 7.5% increase as part of a one-year wage deal, but 8.2% for the lowest-earning workers.

The employer had offered two options. The first was a three-year offer where employees would gain a 5.1% wage increase for the first year and no increase for the second year‚ but a once-off payment of R37,000. Employees would get an increase in line with consumer price inflation in the third year.

The second option was no increase for three years, but a once-off payment of R100,000.

The final agreement between the parties sees employees getting an increase of 5.1% for the next two years and a once-off payment of R7,000. Lower paid workers‚ such as drivers‚ would receive a once-off payment of R11,000.

South32 said on Friday that the strike had now ended and employees who participated in the protest action will return to work soon.

President and chief operating officer for South32 Africa Region‚ Mike Fraser‚ said the company was pleased to have reached an agreement with the union. He said the agreement supported the long-term sustainability of the company’s Hillside operation while also preserving jobs.

"This agreement supports our goal of managing controllable costs at Hillside and has laid a foundation to work with Numsa to jointly identify opportunities to reduce labour costs‚" Fraser said.

Numsa KwaZulu-Natal regional chairman Mbuso Ngubane welcomed the resolution of the strike‚ but complained about police brutality during the week of the strike. He said the police attacked striking workers without reason.

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