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The move could result in strike action early this year as the major unions in the bargaining council, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity, have declared a dispute over what they say is the coal companies' and chamber's reneging on "a slightly revised centralised bargaining structure to which the unions agreed". The two unions charged that coal companies and the chamber had unilaterally opted to decentralise negotiations. "It is now a matter of principle and both unions are prepared to go on strike to express our dissatisfaction and to get the companies to revert to their revised centralised structure," said Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis. Last week the chamber, on behalf of its members, gave notice that the members want to withdraw from the centralised collective bargaining process. In response, the NUM and Solidarity declared a dispute. Motsamai Motlhamme, the chamber's head of employee relations, said this week that companies that were in the cen...

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