S.Africa gold sector pay offer snubbed

There is no end in sight for wage disputes in South Africa, with the country’s union refusing the final pay hike proposal from the gold mining industry.

The refusal has increased chances of strikes in the country.

The National Union of Mineworkers snubbed seven gold mining firms’ offer of up to a 6.5 per cent pay rise.

A union spokesman did not specify the next step despite the union previously hinting at strikes if companies did not hike pay by 60 per cent.

“We reject it with the contempt it deserves,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said.

“We think that it is a serious insult to the working poor.”

The companies’ proposal included an inflation-pegged housing allowance.

The proposal has a two year validity. It included a pay of 9,170 rand ($882) a month, along with profit-sharing provisions.

The AFP reports they will likely go on strike similar to tens of thousands of employees in aviation, auto and construction industries.

Petrol station attendants, motor mechanics and car dealer workers will join them next week.

The latest demands from the NUM come as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union demanded on a 100 per cent rise in sectoral wages recently.

An NUM leader was shot and another one wounded at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine recently when they were pursued and shot.

The Chamber of Mines, which conducts discussions for the gold producers, said the sector “remains in a perilous financial position, and can ill-afford further increases or indeed industrial action”.

“We need a sustainable agreement that will preserve our mines, and consequently jobs,” Chamber’s main negotiator Elize Strydom said in a statement.

While the government wants to avoid micro-managing the mining industry, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said the industry has to “break with its undesirable past by making workers feel valued for their contribution”.

“The mining industry has remained a prisoner of its apartheid past in this core element of cheap labour,” he said at a mining conference in Johannesburg.

Analysts said last month a mining pact by the government will not allay wage negotiations or prevent strikes.

Up to 4000 mineworkers went on a sit-in strike at an Anglo-American platinum mine in June.

The workers were protesting against the suspension of four leaders, a union representative said.

Police shot and killed 34 protesting platinum miners in one day in South Africa last year

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