Unions declare wage dispute in gold sector

2013-07-24 14:30

Pay talks in the gold mining industry will move to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), unions and gold producers said.

“The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity, and Uasa have declared a dispute, and have referred the matter to the CCMA for mediation,” Charmane Russell said today on behalf of gold producers.

“This will give the parties an opportunity to engage, with the assistance of a mediator, for around a 30-day period.”

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the fourth union involved in the negotiations, has requested additional information, to which the producers would respond, she said.

Last week the producers, AngloGold Ashanti, Evander Gold Mine, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold, Rand Uranium, Sibanye Gold, and Village Main Reef, proposed a four percent pay rise for workers in the opening round of this year’s wage talks.

Ahead of talks, NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the four percent increase was not enough.

“We have rejected that four percent with the contempt that it deserves.”

The NUM wanted surface workers to earn a minimum of R7?000 a month, and underground and open-cast workers R8?000 a month.

During today’s negotiations, the producers raised the increase to five percent in respect of wages and benefits.

“The effect of this offer would be to raise the guaranteed pay of entry-level underground employees for major gold-producing companies to at least R9 000 per month,” Russell said.

“These figures include basic wage, living-out allowance, medical benefit and retirement contribution and exclude statutory benefits, other allowances, profit share, overtime and bonuses.”

Despite the increase, three of the four negotiating unions declared a dispute.

“We are referring this to the CCMA immediately. If we don’t agree there, we will strike,” Seshoka said.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said, in a statement, the union believed wage negotiations in the gold industry this year would gain momentum only if a facilitation process was followed.

“The Chamber of Mines announced today that it would improve its initial wage offer of only four percent for employees in the gold industry with a mere one percentage point and therefore we believe that facilitating should take place sooner rather than later to give negotiations a boost,” he said.

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