Refinery workers strike over wages, polygraphs

[] – MORE than 300 employees at Rand Refinery are currently on strike after negotiations over higher wages and the banning of polygraph tests deadlocked.

Workers are demanding annual increases of 10% over the next two years, while the company is offering a raise of 9% in the first year, and 7% in the second and third year, said a branch official of the National Metalworkers (Numsa), who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Picketing would continue on Monday outside the premises in Germiston and no meetings were scheduled for the weekend to try and resolve the strike, he said.

The union, which has recruited members at the Refinery from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in recent months, also wants polygraph tests to be banned.

The official said seven employees have been fired recently after they failed polygraphs related to investigations into missing gold.

It is unclear if the dismissals are related to the gold that went “missing’ from the Refinery, which has processed about a third of the world’s gold since 1920, after a new enterprise resource planning system was implemented last year.

Its physical stock levels were 87,000 ounces less than accounting records showed, leading Sibanye Gold, Gold Fields, AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony to make R1.2bn available to Rand as security.

The company could not be reached for comment late on Friday.