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Unions reject gold companies' latest wage offer

Aug 15 2018 19:27
Sibongile Khumalo
 An image of a miner


Unions involved in wage bargaining talks for the gold sector have rejected the latest offer put forward by employers.

Negotiations over wage adjustments and other employment benefits began last month between gold producers AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG], Harmony [JSE:HAR], Sibanye-Stillwater [JSE:SGL] and Village Main Reef; and unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and UASA.

"All four unions have rejected these offers, which ranged from 6% - 7.2% for Category 4 underground employees, and 3.5% and 4.5% for miners and artisans, and officials," the companies said in a statement.

The companies said they believed the offer was "responsible and sound".

The unions had put forward a total of 137 demands at the start of the talks, and the employers said 62 of these had significant cost implications for the struggling sector.

"It is true that our industry is faced with a number of challenges including a stagnant gold price, rising costs and falling profitability," said Motsamai Motlhamme, chief negotiator for the employers.

"These challenges have had a significant impact not only on sustainability of the gold sector, but on the mining industry as a whole," Motlhamme said.

The NUM is demanding that salaries of entry level surface workers be adjusted to up to R9 500, with R10 500 for entry level underground employees and a 15% hike for all officials.

Solidarity said in a statement that it had changed its salary demand to an increase of the CPI plus 4% in response to the Minerals Council's offer, while appealing to the companies to "start recognising the value of their skilled employees".

"The Minerals Council's latest offer is not only lower than the inflation rate, but it is also significantly lower than the latest offers being made to lower category (Category 4 - 8) employees," said the union.

The union's General Secretary, Gideon du Plessis, said there was a "misconception among employers" that employees in the skilled category would not go on strike, in what appeared to be a warning to the companies.

He stated that skilled workers were "prepared to exercise all rights to get a fair increase".

Talks will resume on August 22.

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