Gold & coal miners to begin wage talks

NUM and Solidarity submitted their new wage demands to the Chamber of Mines last week.

FILE: a miner. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - As miners on the platinum belt face union rivalry and potential job cuts, gold and coal mining companies will on Monday receive the first demands of the wage talks season.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) tabled its demands of up to a 60 percent to the Chamber of Mines last week.

Trade union Solidarity also submitted its demands of 10 percent across the board.

For the first time in history of collective bargaining, NUM has opted to negotiate for wage hikes in rands as opposed to percentages.

The union wants a minimum wage of R7,000 for surface workers and R8,000 for underground miners who are currently being paid R5,000.

The Chamber of Mines chief negotiator, Elize Strydom said the demands would be presented to companies this week.

"Chamber will be engaging with unions looking at possible dates to commence negotiations."

Strydom said they had not yet received wage demands from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which has become a key player with gold miners since the past year.

Meanwhile, the mining industry prepared for what could be the toughest year of wage talks yet.

NUM lashed out at Sibanye Gold CEO Neal Froneman for saying workers do not have an appetite to strike.

The CEO said that a double-digit wage hike would not happen.

But NUM said premature pronouncements on wage talks were tantamount to giving workers the middle finger.

NUM's Lesiba Seshoka said the union was determined to achieve a double-digit salary hike for workers in 2013.

Wage talks in the sector are likely to get off to a rocky start later this month following the negative reaction from mining bosses.

Failed wage talks in 2013 could result in violent strikes and loss in production.