JOHANNESBURG – Unions representing gold-miners say their members will not accept their employers’ wage increase offer.
Last week, unions tabled their opening demands to the Minerals Council.
Gold mining companies have now offered workers increases of between R450 and R550 over a three-year period.
But the unions are accusing some companies of negotiating in bad faith.
An estimated 112,000 workers are affected by these wage negotiations.
Minerals Council South Africa, which represents the employers, says the negotiations take place against a backdrop of sharp declines in a gold industry that was once the world’s largest.
The council says the sector is hampered by a stagnant and volatile gold price and a rand-dollar exchange rate that affects long-term planning, investment and production.
Minerals Council SA Chief Negotiator Motsamai Motlhamme said, “The central theme is that we don’t negotiate the industry out of business and therefore out of jobs. With the picture that we’ve painted of the industry, it’s the responsibility both of us as the unions and employers we reach reasonable offers so the industry sustains itself.”
The National Union of Mineworkers tabled an entry-level salary of R9, 500 for workers employed on the surface, and R10, 500 an entry-level salary for underground workers.
Among its opening demands, the NUM has demanded a living-out allowance of R3, 000, and a housing allowance of R5, 000.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union tabled an opening salary demand of R12,500.
The unions expressed their dismay at the companies’ offer.
Livhuwani Mammburu of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said, “These offers by the gold mining companies are an insult to our members. This is not something they’ll accept. We’ll fight to the end to get our members what they want.”
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)’s Jimmy Gama said “We’re not intending to come here for the rest of the month if these negotiations are not bearing any fruits. As Amcu we’ll take another step forward.”
The unions say they’ve put their differences aside to work together in the interests of mine workers.
Gideon Du Plessis of Solidarity said, “The union rivalry that used to exist is something of the past. This morning there was a union get together where we all agreed that we’ll work as one and put our differences aside. That will make us stronger.”
The unions and companies will meet again next week to continue negotiations.
The current gold-wage agreements expired on at the end of June, and new agreements will be back-dated to 1 July.