Gold mine wage negotiations have resumed in South Africa with the Chamber of Mines putting an offer of 6% on the table, but the unions say they are still a long way from reaching a settlement.
Author: Tessa Kruger
Posted: Monday , 02 Jul 2007

Johannesburg - Gold mining sector worker unions are disappointed with a 6% wage increase offer from the South African Chamber of Mines and are still expecting double-digit wage increases this year.
Lesiba Seshoka, spokesperson for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said after the Chamber tabled the 6% offer today it was not good news for workers in the industry and the union still hoped the mining companies would double their offer during the course of negotiations.
He said it appeared the gold sector was imitating the coal sector, which brought a similar offer to the negotiating table. The union wanted the companies to truly consider what it could offer the workers.
NUM claims it represents more than 90% of workers in the local gold sector, which includes major gold producers Gold Fields, AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony.
Solidarity, a trade union, representing about 8,000 of approximately 160,000 workers in the local industry, said it was glad the Chamber put an offer on the table but saw today's offer more as a "bridge-building" exercise to repair the relationship.
"We are disappointed with the offer of 6% as it is still below the inflation rate of 6.4%. The union feels very strongly about its demand of a double digit increases for workers."
"We are still a very long way from reaching a labour settlement, but at least we have now made a start," said a spokesperson.
Spokesperson for the Chamber of Mines, Jabu Maphalala, said the negotiations have progressed with the tabling of the offer as the unions have gone away to discuss the offer.
The Chamber will meet the unions again for the third round of wage negotiations on 10 July.
It will in the meantime consider the cost implications of the 61 union demands against the sustainability of the industry, said Maphalala.
The Chamber addressed some of the union demands today when it offered a framework agreement for the provision of sporting facilities, annual leave to be standardised at 30 paid calendar days and sick leave of 84 paid days over two years.
The unions and gold companies represented by the Chamber fell out during the first round of wage negotiations when the Chamber failed to make a wage offer, saying it wanted to consider the list of union demands first.