Amcu revises wage demand

2014-03-04 13:37

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has offered a reconfigured wage demand to platinum companies that would have workers only achieve a R12 500 basic wage in three years.

This comes as the union announced it intention to have a large protest march in Pretoria on Thursday, when it would deliver memorandums to various government departments complaining about the alleged government support for the mining companies against Amcu.

The march marks a relaxation of the union’s thus far resolute refusal to allow any political parties to march under its banner despite vocal support from a wide range of old and new organisations.

Amcu has instead invited “all South Africans, various organisations, nongovernmental organisations, church leaders and traditional leaders who are in support of the workers’ struggle” to join it in Pretoria.

At a press briefing today, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the aim was to have 40 000 people march on the Union Buildings – an ambitious target that would serve to demonstrate Amcu’s power after widespread media attention was given to a small splinter group this weekend, which announced it wanted to form a new rival union called the Workers’ Association Union.

Amcu’s new demand is precisely what it had indicated it was moving towards two weeks ago when it said it was willing to negotiate on “how and when” the basic wage of R12 500 is achieved.

Mathunjwa said the union would consider the basic wage demand being met over three years – and an effective freeze on the allowances that mine workers receive in addition to the basic wage for the same period.

These include the housing allowance, which currently amounts to about R1 950 a month and which Amcu has in the current negotiations demanded be trebled to more than R6 000.

That demand now falls away.

Mathunjwa this morning admitted that the Amcu demand, which has only the basic wage increase as opposed to other elements of remuneration, presents the companies with a problem.

Variable elements of pay like overtime, medical aid and provident fund contributions are all linked to the basic wage and would rise in tandem.

That is why the companies would prefer to raise the housing allowance rather than raise the basic wage by the same amount.

If it continues for much longer, the now six-week-old strike at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin is likely to soon exhaust the companies’ inventories of metal and ore, exposing them to serious economic damage.

Amcu was set to meet the three platinum companies’ representatives today, where they would likely get a response to their new reconfigured demand.

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