NUM declares dispute with Kumba over sick leave after agreeing 8% pay rise

Sishen Iron Ore mine

THE National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Wednesday declared a dispute with Kumba Iron Ore over new sick leave provisions after agreeing to wage increases, said Reuters.

Once negotiations deadlock, the union has the right to declare a dispute taking the matter into a process of arbitration – which is one step short of possible strike activity.

NUM, the majority union at Kumba, said the company had agreed a wage increase of 8% for the lowest-paid workers and 6.5% for the highest-paid workers, but the two parties had disagreed over sick leave.

“The company policy on sick leave provides workers with 120 days. To our dismay, in a round of negotiations, the company wants to do away with the benefit,” the NUM said in a statement.

The union’s declaration of a dispute means that a protected strike could potentially go ahead if conciliation talks between the parties mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration fail to break the impasse.

Kumba, which is controlled by Anglo American, announced the payment of a R19.60 per share interim dividend, representing 75% of headline earnings, in July following another strong set of financial results.

However, the company deferred R1bn in non-critical capital expenditure to 2021 and said it would extract R400m in new cost savings this year taking total cost savings for 2020 to R1bn as it took up a cautious note amid the economic pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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