South Africa gold miners call strike

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) take part in a strike in the central business district area of Johannesburg, August 27, 2013. South Africa is already grappling with strikes in several sectors

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Gold miners in South Africa have called a strike over their wage demands, to start on Tuesday, mine-owners say.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has demanded rises of up to 60%.

Earlier this week, workers rejected an offer of increases of about 6% - the same as the current annual rate of inflation.

South Africa is one of the world's biggest gold producers, but output has been hit by underinvestment and poor labour relations, analysts say.

South Africa's biggest gold miners - AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold and Sibanye - as well as several smaller operators, have been served with a formal strike notice, the chamber of mines said.

Mining South Africa's riches

  • Minerals and metals account for 60% of all export revenue
  • Mining contributes close to 10% of South Africa's GDP
  • 513, 211 jobs - in 2011
  • South Africa is world's biggest platinum producer, with 80% of the world's reserves
  • It has 50% of known global gold reserves

Source : South African Chamber of Mines (2012)

The NUM represents about 64% of South Africa's 120,000 gold miners.

South Africa is already grappling with strikes by car, construction and some aviation workers.

Petrol station employees are also set to embark on industrial action next week.

The government has called on the workers to ensure all strikes are peaceful.

Last year, 34 striking platinum miners were shot dead by police after their protests turned violent.

Analysts say President Jacob Zuma is under pressure from both sides of the political spectrum.

Some members of the governing African National Congress want him to do more to relieve poverty, while the business community is urging him to focus on reducing bureaucracy, attracting foreign investment and speeding up South Africa's sluggish economic growth.

Mark Lowen explores inside a South African gold mine

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