Amcu wants Amplats to double underground pay

2013-07-02 13:11

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The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is demanding that Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) more than double the monthly pay of underground workers to R12 500, according to a document seen by Reuters today.

Platinum companies in the world's biggest producer of the precious metal do not reveal salary data for individual categories of worker, but analysts say most entry-level underground miners earn a basic wage of R5 000 a month.

Amcu has emerged as the dominant union on the platinum belt after a violent turf war last year with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in which more than 50 people were killed.

Its first wage submission to platinum producers is likely to set the tone for salary demands across a sector still reeling from the unrest, which cost billions of dollars in lost output and led to credit downgrades for Africa's largest economy.

Replicating demands submitted to gold producers at the end of June, Amcu said that "on a daily basis, workers experience a declining standard of living and the dream of sharing in the wealth of the country remains a pipe dream".

"We believe therefore that the minerals of this country must now benefit the people," it said in the preamble.

The world's top platinum producer, a unit of Anglo American, is likely to oppose big hikes as it struggles to return its mines to profit after drops in the spot platinum price squeezed margins and forced it to consider closing some shafts.

Amplats plans to cut 6 000 South African mining jobs and reduce platinum production by 10%, or 250 000 ounces, this year, with another 100 000 ounces to go in the medium term.

The demand for an entry-level wage of R12 500 for underground workers echoes the calls made by striking mine workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine in August last year.

It is much higher than the slightly-above-inflation increase reached between NUM and Aquarius Platinum last month.

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