Unions declare wage dispute with gold producers

Shutterstock [http://www.shutterstock.com]

Johannesburg - The largest unions in gold mining sector declared disputes with producers on Thursday after wage talks deadlocked, sending the negotiations to a government mediator, a necessary regulatory step before their members can go on strike.

The two sides have been poles apart: the industry squeezed by falling prices and rising costs versus labour demands for big wage hikes to close what it says is the "apartheid wage gap" - the disparities that persist between the black workforce and white management two decades after white rule ended.

A spokesperson for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the biggest union in the gold sector, said it did not hold out much hope that the parties could reach a deal under mediation and that a strike against AngloGold Ashanti , Harmony Gold  and Sibanye  was "unavoidable."

"The talks have completely collapsed, it as if we had never negotiated at all," spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu told Reuters.

Any strike action could further damage an industry that is already reeling from falling production and the precious metal's recent price decline to 5-1/2 year lows.

A spokesperson for the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union said the employers had reverted to their previous offer, a move the union viewed as "unacceptable".

A spokesperson for the producers said the unions had not yet formally informed the employers of their intention to declare a dispute, but said that this had been expected.

She also confirmed that the companies had reverted to their previous offer.

Unions have been seeking pay hikes of up to over 100% for the lowest-paid miners against the companies' latest offers of increases ranging from 9 to 18%.

The previous offer by the gold firms - which is the one now on the table - was for pay hikes of 7.8 to 13% for entry-level workers.

ZAR/USD
17.26
(-1.39)
ZAR/GBP
22.49
(-0.86)
ZAR/EUR
20.24
(-0.98)
ZAR/AUD
12.26
(-0.83)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(-1.20)
Gold
1971.36
(-0.48)
Silver
24.27
(-0.50)
Platinum
907.00
(+0.65)
Brent Crude
43.61
(0.00)
Palladium
2109.49
(+2.25)
All Share
56152.32
(+0.77)
Top 40
51864.25
(+0.96)
Financial 15
9930.27
(-2.22)
Industrial 25
75356.69
(+1.14)
Resource 10
56564.42
(+1.81)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Do you think it was a good idea for the government to approach the IMF for a $4.3 billion loan to fight Covid-19?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes. We need the money.
11% - 801 votes
It depends on how the funds are used.
74% - 5304 votes
No. We should have gotten the loan elsewhere.
15% - 1055 votes
Vote