Mine wage talks on the cards

The Chamber of Mines will meet unions to discuss proposed wage demands for this year, senior employment relations executive Elize Strydom has said.

“The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) tabled a wage demand on Friday,” she said today.

“We have circulated the demands to our members in the gold and coal [mining] sector. The next step will be to engage the unions.”

A formal meeting would be held between the chamber and the different unions representing workers in the vast sector.

“When we engage them, we will be asking questions for clarity. It takes us roughly three weeks from receiving the demands to calling for the formal meeting,” said Strydom.

The NUM demanded that surface workers receive a minimum amount of R7 000 a month, and underground and open-cast workers R8 000 a month.

For all other categories, the union had put a demand of 15%.

The union’s general secretary Frans Baleni said rising inflation had inspired the demands.

“These demands are informed by many studies which reveal that wages have been growing, but the disposable wage has been under severe strain due to the effects of inflation and other expenses incurred to maintain a worker’s modest lifestyle,” he said.

These demands were prepared for gold and coal mines affiliated to the Chamber of Mines.

Baleni said the union submitted additional demands relating to allowances for housing and commuting.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) announced earlier this month it would cut 6 000 jobs instead of the 14 000 it predicted earlier.

The revised figure was met with renewed threats of crippling strikes by trade unions.

In response, Baleni said Amplats had not budged, showing its critical players “the middle finger”, which undermined sound industrial relations.

In January, the company said it would review its business in response to demand for platinum and because of “challenges” which had eroded profitability.

This was in the aftermath of 44 deaths – 34 of them at the hands of police – near Lonmin Platinum’s Marikana operations during a pay strike, and a prolonged industry-wide strike last year.

Of the estimated 14 000 job losses, at least 13 000 would have been in the volatile Rustenburg area.

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