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Union suspends Xstrata mine strike in South Africa

Published on 25/10/2011

The strike that affected Swiss diversified mining group Xstrata in South Africa for over a week ended on Monday after mediation by the mining ministry, according to a statement.

Thousands of workers of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had downed tools on October 16 over disagreement about the company’s share ownership programme.

“The NUM and Xstrata, agreed to find a solution to the dispute within seven days,” said Sandile Nogxina, the mediator from the Mineral Resources Ministry, in a statement.

The shares programme would give shares to mine workers in proportion to their employment grade, but the trade union demanded the same number of shares for all workers.

NUM said the company management was racist because it did not give equal shareholding to black and white employees.

The programme would skew ownership to higher-ranking predominantly white employees and stall a mining charter target of 26% black ownership of mines in 2014, the union claimed.

South Africa’s Chamber of Mines in August said they had already exceeded the target with 28 percent black ownership.

Up to 3,000 minors from Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northwest provinces protested before the company’s headquarters in Johannesburg.

Xstrata has pointed out its programme was voluntary and demanded that strikes end before any negotations could take place.

The company said its deliveries to clients were not affected outside of the strike.

Based in Zug, Xstrata is quoted on the London and Zurich stock exchanges. It is a subsidiary of mining and trading company Glencore, which owns 34.3% in the global miner.