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Chamber set for gold sector talks

Oct 24 2012 17:00

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Johannesburg - Gold mining companies and trade unions will meet at the Chamber of Mines on Thursday about labour turbulence in the mining sector.

Three unions would attend -- the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa, the chamber's employment relations senior executive Elize Strydom said on Wednesday.

"We are meeting tomorrow [Thursday] on behalf of Gold Fields [JSE:GFI], Harmony Gold Mining Company [JSE:HAR] and Anglo Gold Ashanti [JSE:ANG] at 10:00 with [the] NUM, Solidarity and Uasa."

They would discuss the response to proposals made the week before last, improvements made on Thursday, and feedback unions received when they started discussing these with members on Friday.

They would also discuss to whom an agreement would apply. It needed to be clarified whether an agreement would include workers already dismissed at the time the deal was concluded, but who were still in an appeals process.

Strydom was "cautiously optimistic" that a deal would be reached.

The deal would give effect to clause 11 of the existing wage agreement, which runs to mid-2013, between the companies and the three unions.

The clause allows for adjustments to the wages of the lowest-paid workers and certain jobs, such as rock-drill operators, at those companies.

The adjustments would be slightly different for Harmony Gold.

Harmony Gold has issued an ultimatum to 5400 workers at its Kusasalethu operations near Carletonville, giving them until 6:00 on Thursday to return to work or face dismissal procedures.

Workers at AngloGold Ashanti returned to the company's two Vaal River mines, Kopanong and Great Noligwe, and to their Moab Khotsong operations, near Orkney, this week.

However, the company was starting dismissal procedures against 12 000 strikers at Mponeng, Tau Tona, and Savuka who had not returned to work by the deadline of noon on Wednesday.

Gold Fields fired 8500 workers at its KDC East operations on Tuesday for not adhering to a final warning to be at work by 16:00. Those workers still had the right to appeal.

Many of the workers at the mines told reporters they wanted a monthly salary of R12 500 and were unhappy with the way the NUM had represented their needs.

At one point, expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema told workers gathered at Gold Fields that their demands were not unreasonable and that there should be a national strike to improve mine workers' salaries.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions has asked companies not to fire workers and to reinstate those already fired, with their benefits.

Solidarity and Uasa members have not been on strike, but their spokespeople have said they had, at times, been unable to work because of intimidation.

Even if they had been able to clock in, because the mines were not fully operational, they lost the overtime and various bonuses they counted on to boost their monthly income.


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