S.African mine union brands 4 per cent wage hike offer an "insult" - CNBC Africa

S.African mine union brands 4 per cent wage hike offer an "insult"

Southern Africa

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“It’s an insult to the workers that are working underground to create so much wealth for the mining industry. The reality is four per cent of people earning 4,500 rand is nothing,” Spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told CNBC Africa on Tuesday

Seshoka said NUM had already notified the Chamber that it wants nothing to do with this deal, threatening to take drastic steps to send their message across – declaring “war”.

“As a union we’re prepared to go to war over this issue. It’s not negotiable as far as we’re concerned and we’ve made it clear to the Chamber that if they continue with this kind of tactics, we are going to go the confrontational route. There’s no question about that,” vowed Seshoka.

On Tuesday the mining-industry employer organisation proposed an average 4 per cent wage hike to unions in the on-going South African gold sector negotiations.

The Chamber’s chief negotiator Elize Strydom said the offer will guarantee underground entry level mineworkers taking home 8,900 rand per month, from a meagre 5,000 rand. She also said the increment is inclusive of other benefits including the workforces’ retirement contribution. 

“Four per cent increase on basic across the board is not insignificant, bearing in mind the fact that we’re a very labour intensive industry and that already we pay wages that are way above other labour intensive industries,” Strydom told CNBC Africa on Tuesday.

In May, Amcu declared its intention to demand a minimum of 12,500 rand across all mining houses, which is exactly 3 600 rand short against the Chamber’s offer.  Seshoka said the union is not willing to compromise and vowing not to entertain any excuses this year.

“We’ll declare a dispute and go on strike to demand that our members get better paid. It’s not the first time that they tell us that the market conditions are bad, the gold price is bad, the mines are deeper, electricity costs are high, operational costs are high etc.,” Seshoka added. 

“They’ve been telling us that for the past 30 years yet looting lots of money, making millions in returns, while the people who create their wealth are suffering.  They live in shacks and in poor conditions. Whoever will try to justify that workers will continue to earn 4,500 rand is living in a dream world.”