Platinum producers increase wage offer, negotiations resume
Johannesburg-SA (Apr 19) A previous version of this article titled "Platinum producers capitulate on union pay demand" updated by Mineweb's Kip Keen incorrectly stated Impala Platinum and Anglo American had met Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) demands. Mineweb apologises for any confusion it created.
While the platinum producers new offer is significant and guarantees more years of higher wage increases, it does not fully meet AMCU demands.
The AMCU has asked for an increase in basic pay to R12,500 over a 4-year period for entry-level workers.
Impala and Anglo American are now offering R12,150 in cash remuneration - which includes basic pay but also a living allowance and holiday pay - over a five year period for entry-level workers. The new offer would be reached by 2017 and, as previous offers, would be back dated to mid 2013.
The platinum producers' previous offer was to come over 3 years and according to documents on the platinum producers strike website (www.platinumwagenegotiations.co.za.) would have seen cash remuneration go to between R8,000-R10,000 in mid-2015.
Now Impala and Anglo American are offering to go beyond that figure, but two years later with R12,500 in cash remuneration on offer by 2017.
It is not clear how much of that figure is accounted for by basic pay, though it would be the vast majority.
It was also not clear at press time if Lonmin was to make a similar offer.
The new Implala and Anglo American offers come after renewed meetings between the South African government and the union and platinum producers this week and new plans were made to continue talks early next week.
The story below was reported by Mineweb's correspondent in South Africa, Ayandi Mdluli, who was not responsible for the above error, before Anglo American and Impala made their new offer:
Since Tuesday, AMCU leaders engaged in closed meetings with the Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin CEOs.
According to Jimmy Gama, AMCU treasurer, the minister called for new wage negotiations to resume this week and asked for opportunity to deal with the crippling strike. The meeting took place after the trade union launched a R1 million fund to assist workers affected by the strike.
“From the meeting we had with minister on Tuesday they have shown some commitment and willingness to engage with employers and employees in order to get solution,” he said.
On Wednesday, a meeting was held with the platinum producers. They were also present at meeting that took place on Thursday morning, which was confirmed by a spokeswoman from one of the mining houses who did not wish to go on record.
When asked if this was a sign that a certain degree of cooperation and progression has been achieved, Gama said the AMCU has done everything possible to show that it wants this chaotic strike to be resolved as a matter of urgency.
“We have done everything possible to ensure that things are resolved. The ball is in their court,” he said.
The AMCU and the companies have been involved in the biggest strike to ever hit South Africa, lasting more than three months and costing more than R17 billion in production and wage losses.
The strike has also had a profound socio-economic impact as children and employees have gone hungry and resorted to selling their personal possessions in order to feed their families. The union is demanding a R12,500 minimum wage structural change while the companies have offered increases of 7% 8.5% and 9%.
Both parties have locked horns and refused to budge resulting in a breakdown of the talks at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration.
The union reiterated calls that it would not back down, referring to the strike as a mining revolution that commenced in August 2012 when 34 miners were killed by police leaving scores of others injured during unprecedented violence in the mining towns of Marikana just outside Rustenburg.
AMCU has since launched a fund which aims to cater for workers needs during the strike and has promised to march on the British Embassy in Pretoria and Parliament in Cape Town if their demands are not met.