After weeks of negotiation, the Chamber of Mines will make what it calls its "final offer" to South African gold mine workers on July 30, Elize Strydom, the chief negotiator for the employers confirmed Monday. Rejection of this offer could mean a strike in Africa’s biggest gold mining nation.
The NUM, AMCU, UASA and Solidarity rejected an opening offer of between 7.8 per cent and 12.96 per cent on July 6. For the last week the employers have been in bi-lateral talks in a bid for compromise.
"On Thursday we will make our final offer to all four unions based on the sustainability of the industry. We don't want what the job losses, seen in platinum, to come into our industry," says Strydom.
The NUM spent the day in bi-lateral talks with the employers Monday in which the gold companies explained that the final offer would be just that, Livhuwani Mammburu, the national spokesman for the NUM said Monday.
"They also said the offer would ensure that the gold industry will still be around in five to ten years’ time, but we will wait and see what they come up with," says Mammburu.
The NUM wants an 80 per cent increase in entry level pay; ACMU wants 100 per cent.
On July 7, the Chamber of Mines put out a statement to show how much the union demands would cost the hard pressed gold mining industry that has shed 60,000 of its 180,000 jobs in the last decade. The union pay demands would increase the wage bill of South African gold mines by R16.5 billion ($1.32 billion) threatening almost all of the industry's jobs, the statement said.
The wage bill in 2014 was R23.5 billion ($1.88 billion), making up 55 per cent of the costs for the gold mines.
If unions do not agree with the final offer, they could declare a deadlock that would lead to arbitration. A failure in arbitration could lead to a strike.
*Chris Bishop is the managing editor of Forbes Africa