NUM seeks new talks with chamber

2012-10-15 18:06

Johannesburg - The SA Chamber of Mines should return to the negotiating table after declaring an impasse on Monday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said.

The union was "disappointed" the chamber did not make a new offer after striking gold miners rejected their latest tabled proposal, spokesperson Ngwako Matsha said in a statement.

"Instead, the Chamber of Mines argued for an opportunity to weigh its own options of restructuring and [for] taking the legal route."

A meeting on Monday between the chamber, the NUM, Solidarity and Uasa could not find a solution to the on-going unprotected strike by an estimated 50 000 workers.

During the meeting, unions gave the chamber feedback on the proposals tabled by employers last week. The unions indicated there had been mixed reactions by their members to the chamber's proposals, and that they were unable to confirm their members would return to work.

The chamber said it was not in a position to make any further proposals.

"[The chamber] and the individual companies will now explore other avenues to try to bring normality to the gold mining industry," it said.

Several mining companies had responded to the waves of unprotected strikes hitting the sector by firing workers.

Matsha said it would be a mistake for the chamber to take this course of action.

"Dismissals would not be a solution to the current challenges facing the industry in that it would only serve to fuel emotions that are already high," he said.

At least one mining company has said restructuring might be in the cards, with less-profitable shafts being closed as wage costs rose.

Matsha said this would cause problems as it would likely result in the loss of jobs and higher unemployment.

The chamber, acting on behalf of AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG], Gold Fields [JSE:GFI], and Harmony Gold Mining Company [JSE:HAR], had proposed doing away with the lowest wage category to increase the industry's entry-level wage. A new category would be created for locomotive, loader, winch, and water jet operators, to improve their salaries.

Other employees would have their pay adjusted to preserve the integrity of the present job grading framework. An allowance for rock drill operators was also proposed.

Uasa spokesperson Franz Stehring said his union would be considering options such as special legal action and restructuring.

"Our members are not participating in the strike, but are becoming victims of the violence and intimidation," he said.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said: "It is high time that government steps into the fold and ends this ongoing strike. The end result is that marginal mining companies will close down, and big mining companies start retrenching."

  • joe.smit.549 - 2012-10-15 18:28

    Part of negotiating, is having the right to say, enough! You don't, just keep going back, with a better offer. Perhaps the Chamber feels their offer is fair!

      gieljam.gomtor - 2012-10-15 19:01

      Agree NUM not only wants to act if its in control and thinks it can keep everyone including whole economy hostage.

  • deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-15 18:29

    They might keep on talking should the workers go back to work. Workers can be replaced but not jobs.

  • Malose-Nyatlo - 2012-10-15 18:53

    The strikes plaguing the mines at the moment are not just usual wage disputes but acts of thuggery and political opportunism aimed at sabotaging the economy of this country. The government is left with one tool they must use to save this country and themselves - a declaration of the state of emergency in mining towns and cities.

  • nhlamulo.lesley - 2012-10-15 18:53

    Honestly speaking the offer that was tabled was pathetic,talk about exploitation

      joe.smit.549 - 2012-10-15 18:58

      The demands are normally, as absurd, as the offers are pathetic. It's a matter of opinion. I know junior teachers earning R3 500.00pm. How pathetic is that?

      Aubrey Mokobodi - 2012-10-15 20:02

      the teachers must do something about, most people have never been underground and seen conditions under which this miners work, they are forced to work unsafe so that the big bosses can take a fat bonus home

      blip.noodlum - 2012-10-23 08:58

      Nobody is FORCED to do anything. To be a miner you MUST be prepared to work underground, just as how to be a fisherman, you have to go out to sea. Of course there are dangers attached to these jobs, as there are if you choose to be a policeman, a roofer or a firefighter. If you won't take the risk, just resign and find another, safer job.

  • gieljam.gomtor - 2012-10-15 18:59

    NUM is a big BUM that must be kicked in the BUT

  • jayjay.mlungu - 2012-10-15 19:00

    The unions want to re-open a wage agreement which is in place until 2013. Can you imagine if it was the employers who did this and tried to reduce wages agreed? Never in a million years, so why should NUM be entitled to it. Agree enough is enough now

  • Brian Dorning - 2012-10-15 19:01

    what did NUM think was going to happen when they couldn't pay more?!?! If they lose their jobs and cannot support themselves and families anymore, they only have themselves to blame

  • Stewart Croucamp - 2012-10-15 19:39

    The unions signed an agreement until 2013. Now they want more money. They did not negotiate very well in the first place. Now they want to blame the chamber of mines. What a bunch of losers. Fire the workers. Close down the mines. Let us all struggle.

  • nuus.reeder - 2012-10-15 19:42

    I sincerely hope the talks go well.

  • isac.sithoe.3 - 2012-10-16 11:34

    Num has ignored its members along time ago, now its time for members to ignore their representatives there are several incidences were despite being member of the organization when you approach them for information you are ignored now we opted in other sources of imfo. these are the results.

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