AMCU seeks R12 500 minimum for gold miners

AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa. (File photo: Lucas Ledwaba/City Press)
AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa. (File photo: Lucas Ledwaba/City Press)

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) plans to demand a R12 500 monthly minimum wage from some of the country’s top gold producers in upcoming wage negotiations.

The labour group decided on its demands on Sunday at a mass meeting near Carletonville. It is the second-largest union at producers including AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG], Sibanye Gold [JSE:SGL] and [JSE:HAR], according to Minerals Council South Africa, a lobby representing the industry.

“R12 500, I think it can put the worker in a better place,” especially considering higher taxes and petrol prices, AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa said in an interview after the meeting. What workers are currently paid “isn’t fair.”

The labour group is also calling for an increase in benefits ranging from severance pay to transport costs and longer maternity leave. It also wants a five-day work week to replace the shift system. Mathunjwa cautioned that the union can change its demands at any time.

South African gold mines are among the world’s deepest, oldest and most labour intensive, which means that producers face constant pressure to reduce costs, while a 27% national unemployment rate makes job cuts politically difficult.

The union demand would mean a substantial increase to companies including Harmony, which reached an agreement in 2015 that increased the monthly minimum basic pay to R7 662 in July last year.

The biggest union at the companies, the National Union of Mineworkers, in April submitted a list of demands for a two-year agreement that calls for entry-level underground pay of R10 500 a month, according to a copy seen by Bloomberg.

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