The Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) has thrown another spanner in the works at the Chamber of Mines’ wage talks for the gold industry – by not joining in the dispute declared by the three other unions.
This time Amcu claims it is the only one sticking to the rules while the other three unions run prematurely to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), the union said on Friday.
The consequence is that the Chamber, acting on behalf of all major gold mines, will next week have two parallel wage talks.
It will meet Amcu at the Chamber’s building in Johannesburg tomorrow and talk to the other three unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as well as Solidarity and Uasa, at the CCMA on Thursday, says the Chamber’s spokesperson Charmane Russell.
This places the Chamber in unknown territory, because it traditionally concludes one single wage agreement for the entire gold workforce – not with the separate unions on behalf of their members only.
It is highly unlikely that the parallel talks continue indefinitely without it having serious implications for an ultimate settlement.
Amcu’s president Joseph Mathunjwa on Friday told City Press that the other unions had acted in “bad faith” by going to the CCMA.
“Amcu never submitted demands in collusion with the other unions. We’re talking for our members and we do not have a mandate to go to the CCMA,” says Mathunjwa.
“We will be showing up at the Chamber for talks.”
In a statement, the union added that “as part of the negotiation process, parties have set aside certain days for negotiations”.
“Amcu respects those dates and that is why it will continue engaging with the Chamber of Mines in an attempt to achieve the mandate of our members.
“We have noted and we respect the pulling out of other unions that are party to the bargaining process.
“We have not exhausted our mandate and we would therefore not pull out as a PR exercise.”
The Chamber raised its initial offer on Monday from 4% to 5% on top of basic wages as well as 5% on the R1 640 living-out allowance.
Entry-level basic wages are around R5 000 per month and exclude a number of other allowances and bonuses.
The Chamber subsequently lashed out at media reports that the CCMA dispute indicates the talks are heading for strike action, saying it “points both to ignorance of the negotiation process and of the recent history of wage negotiations in the gold sector”.
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