Johannesburg - The Chamber of Mines said on Friday that two CCMA mediators would assist the various parties in the disputed gold sector wage talks.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration appointed national senior commissioner Afzul Soobedaar and independent mediator Peter Harris to assist in talks between the gold producers and the various unions, beginning at the Chamber of Mines on 1 August.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity, and Uasa declared a dispute after talks with the chamber deadlocked on Wednesday, after which the matter was referred to the CCMA.
The chamber dismissed threats of a strike in the gold sector, describing them as premature.
"Talk of strike action... points both to ignorance of the negotiation process and of the recent history of wage negotiations in the gold sector," said Elize Strydom, on behalf of gold producers.
She said dispute declaration signalled the start of a structured, orderly mediation process.
"Both dispute declaration and mediation are legal provisions and that they have been taken up entirely responsibly in this way by the parties shows the on-going commitment of these parties to the process and the rule of law."
The producers tabled a revised offer of 5% in respect of wages and benefits during talks.
The NUM wanted surface workers to earn a minimum of R7 000 a month and underground and open-cast workers R8 000 a month.
Solidarity wanted a 10% increase.
"Solidarity still hopes that an agreement within the best interests of the gold sector can be reached and has urged the executives of the employers in the gold sector to put their negotiators in a better bargaining position," general secretary Gideon du Plessis said.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant called on unions and producers to put the interests of the economy and the country first.
"I want to appeal to all employers and employee representatives who are involved in wage negotiations to do so in good faith.
"If there is a deadlock, give the facilitation a chance.
"There is absolutely no reason why the different parties cannot find the middle ground."
She hoped strikes would be a last resort.
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