Sept. 3 - South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma appeals to mining unions over strike action which could have devasting effects on the industry, potentially costing the country $35 million a day in lost output. Hayley Platt reports.
It could cost the country $35m a day in lost output - but there's no sign that South Africa's gold miners are sympathetic. After protests last week they were due to stage widespread strikes this week over pay - arguing their salaries haven't kept up with inflation. Producers, squeezed by rising costs and falling prices, have offered 6.5%. But the hardline union AMCU wants a 150% increase and the main National Union of Mineworkers 60 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NATIONAL UNION OF MINEWORKERS (NUM) SPOKESPERSON, LESIBA SESHOKA, SAYING: "This strike will mark the beginning of their end but clearly because we are not benefitting anything out of this industry we think that this strike is necessary' Africa's largest economy is still recovering from last year's strikes at gold and platinum mines when more than 50 people were killed. President Jacob Zuma was keen to prevent this latest action. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA SAYING: "Both sides must be ready to give, they must be ready to take as well, precisely because the strike and as you know the situation in the mining industry has not been good for quite a while, to add such powerful strikes as it looks like, I think it's not going to be helpful." South Africa produces 6% of the world's bullion - it once supplied 80 percent. Labour analyst Loane Sharp says under-investment and industrial action has caused the decline. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LABOUR ANALYST, LOANE SHARP, SAYING: "The mines are really in a distressing situation, investments in South African mining operations in particular has been very hard hit, there are terrific uncertainties in the mining industry." It's also feared other industries - like construction and autos - could also be effected as unions set their sights on ending what they see as a culture of low pay dating back to the apartheid era.