Amcu stands firm on R12 500 minimum wage

Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa at a press briefing on platinum wage demands in Sandton. (Lameez Omarjee)
Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa at a press briefing on platinum wage demands in Sandton. (Lameez Omarjee)

Johannesburg – The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Thursday reiterated its demand for a basic salary of R12 500 for workers, to be met by platinum mining houses by mid-July.

Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa explained that wage inequality persists and set out the union’s platinum wage demands at a press briefing in Sandton.

Besides the basic salary demand of R12 500, the union also called for a number of allowances such as R100 per day for meals, R2 000 per month for transport, an underground allowance of R2 000 and double rate pay for Sunday work. Basic conditions of employment demands include five working days (Monday to Friday) and bursaries for employees' dependents.

The full list of of demands is to be published on Amcu’s website.

Spaza shops, not supermarkets

“South Africa’s institutionalised collective bargaining strategy has been unresponsive to the needs of the working class,” Mathunjwa said. Inflation targeting set by the Reserve Bank often neglects working class considerations. For example, the official food basket is calculated in terms of supermarket prices, not the spaza shops which mark up prices and serve workers who live in peri-urban areas, he explained.

With the difficult economic climate, Mathunjwa said wage negotiations will be challenging. The economy contracted by -1.6% in the first quarter of 2016. Additionally, in the first quarter of 2016 the unemployment rate went up  to 26.7%, from 24.5% in the last quarter of 2015.

Wage policies should not be oblivious to history and reality. It can "threaten the dream of economic freedom" for workers, he said. 

In response to a question about the National Union of Mineworkers' 20% wage hike demands, Mathunjwa said:“We are not in competition with any so-called National Union of Mineworkers. We are not under pressure for any demands never realised.”

Lonmin [JSE:LON] is expected to respond by July 13 2016 and Anglo American Platinum [JSE:AMS] is expected to respond a day later. Mining houses may take a collective approach when responding to demands, said Mathunjwa, adding that these demands have been made to address the “plight of the working class".

“There is no point negotiating a strike… If the employer puts up a demand for a strike, we’ll give it to them.”

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