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Mine bosses admit they can pay more

SA miners are in the top earning bracket of blue collar workers in the country.

FILE: Striking Lonmin workers discuss a wage increase offer in Marikana, North West, on 14 September 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - It has emerged that the salaries of South African miners are in the top bracket of blue collar workers in the country but mine bosses admit they can afford to pay them more.

The country has seen a wave of wage hike strikes in the industry over the past year, which has highlighted the living and working conditions of unskilled miners.

Speaking at the mining round table in Sandton on Wednesday, mining lawyer at Webber Wentzel Peter Leon said workers consistently received above inflation increases over the past three years.

"Mineworkers earn on average R15,000 a month which indicates they would be at the high level of blue collar workers and if in fact miners are being paid too little, why would mining companies be retrenching workers?"

Meanwhile, Exxaro CEO Sipho Nkosi said miners in Australia were paid much higher wages because the level of education was better and the country was a first world nation.

He said if miners want more money the skill level needs to increase.

"I don't think we are at that level of education where we can do that but certainly we can pay more."

Mining analysts also said international investors perceived the South African labour environment as unstable and unpredictable.