Trans Hex workers strike as wage talks deadlock

22nd July 2013 By: Natasha Odendaal - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

JOHANNESBURG ( – Workers at JSE-listed Trans Hex’s operations downed tools in a protected strike over the weekend as the yearly wage talks with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) ended in a deadlock at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration a week ago.

The diamond company on Monday said the strike, which started on Friday night, impacted operations within the Lower Orange River region, including its Baken, Bloeddrift and Reuning operations.

The majority of employees in the bargaining unit – about 620 employees in job grades B1 to C5 – were NUM members. No other unions were involved.

The NUM rejected the company’s offer of an 8% increase in basic salaries across the board, with further hikes tabled for artisans, and other proposed adjustments.

The proposal would bring the minimum wage of permanent employees to R8 487 a month and the minimum guaranteed salary package, which included basic pay, company contributions to medical aid and retirement fund schemes, as well as the yearly bonus, to over R12 500 a month.

However, it excluded additional pay and benefits such as shift allowances, production bonuses, overtime, variable allowances, housing, transport and education benefits.

“Trans Hex believes the offer on the table is extremely fair and reasonable in the current economic climate and particularly in light of the operational and financial circumstances and challenges facing the company,” Trans Hex said.

Dwindling output and reserves at the company’s South African operations was driving Trans Hex’s finalisation of the acquisition of Namibia-based Namaqualand mines from De Beers.

Trans Hex earlier estimated the productive life of the group’s local operations at between three and seven years.

“The company’s South African operations are mature assets that have been mined for many years. Diamond production has declined over the years as grades have diminished and any sustainable future for these operations is dependent on the company maintaining a stable production environment and achieving continuous improvements in productivity and cost control,” Trans Hex concluded.