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South Africa De Beers diamond workers agree on 9% pay rise
Source: BI-ME and agencies , Author: BI-ME staff
Posted: Fri July 17, 2009 2:40 pm

INTERNATIONAL. South African workers at De Beers, the world's top diamond producer, have agreed to a pay rise of 9% and dropped a demand for more because the industry has been hit by the global crisis, their union said on Friday.

The National Union of Mineworkers, South Africa's biggest mining union, had originally wanted 15%. That compared to the most recent inflation figure of 8%.

The pay agreement was signed in Johannesburg on Thursday. De Beers said formal negotiations began this week with both sides sharing information on the affect of the global credit crunch on De Beers and how the company and employees were responding.

The deal comes as workers in the gold sector are gearing up for a national strike because discussions have failed to deliver the pay rise they seek. There have also been a rash of strikes and threats of industrial action in other industries.

National Union of Mineworkers' members at De Beers Consolidated Mines. and DTC South Africa will see the minimum monthly wage increase to ZAR5,000 (US$617) while miners in a higher category will receive a minimum ZAR9,277 a month, De Beers said.

"This is a good settlement and when the ship (De Beers) is safe we will do even better," NUM negotiator Peter Bailey said in a statement.

Bailey said the union had to make a compromise, given that the diamond industry was one of the hardest hit by the global financial crisis.

"We agreed that De Beers should carry at least the inflationary burden ... but we need De Beers to survive because our members need to maintain their jobs and therefore had to make a significant compromise," he told Reuters.

De Beers is 45% owned by global miner Anglo American, 40% by the Oppenheimer family, and 15% by the government of Botswana.

 

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