Unions have declared a wage dispute with the gold industry, a sign bruising negotiations between labour and major producers such as AngloGold Ashanti may have already stalled.
Bullion producers are offering a wage increase of 5%, up from their initial offer of 4%, the Solidarity union and the National Union of Mineworkers said in a joint statement today.
That is just a fraction of the 60% to 100% increase demanded by workers in the two-week-old salary talks seen as the toughest since the end of apartheid in 1994.
Solidarity, which represents skilled workers, said the gulf between the two sides was a sign of the “exceptionally challenging” weeks that lie ahead and said it hoped a mediator might be able to smooth the talks.
South Africa’s labour laws allow wage disputes to be referred to an outside mediator. If that fails, employees are allowed to go on a legal strike.
The gold and platinum industry were hammered by wildcat strikes late last year, costing producers billions of rand in lost revenue and leading to the downgrade of South Africa’s credit rating.
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