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Amcu stands firm on its R12,500 demand

Joseph Mathunjwa issued a challenge to negotiators to make a real difference by acceding to a living wage.

Amcu's Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has once again demanded R12,500 as an entry level wage for all the surface and underground workers it represents in the gold sector.

The union has unveiled its demands which include housing bonuses and a shakeup in provident fund, as well as medical aid and employee share benefit schemes.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa has also issued a challenge to negotiators to make a real difference by acceding to a living wage.

"We challenge all stakeholders to join hands with us to bring about real change in the lives of our fellow comrades in the mining sector."

However the union says it's unfazed by threats of job cuts by gold companies and will push ahead with its fight for a living wage.

Mathunjwa says workers should not be paid low wages due to low productivity at the mines.

"We hope we've buried the apartheid perpetuated method of low wages based on low productivity and chamber policies of cheap labour."

Amcu is demanding increases of between R6,500 and R7,000 and says it has submitted the numbers with a clear conscience.

"We intend to see parity prevailing."

The union's leader has also warned that it does not recognize the Chamber of Mines and may negotiate directly with the companies if necessary.

At the same time, Mathunjwa says he's not convinced that high wages will lead to job losses in the gold mining sector and his union will not be bullied into making low demands by mine bosses.

The union says traditional bargaining guidelines for gold have not decreased the wage gap and should be abandoned.

"We're not worried about what the CEOs are saying as they are not worried when they pay workers the slave salaries while they are earning millions. Retrenchments are happening even when you don't present any demands," said Mathunjwa.

Last year, 70,000 Amcu members downed tools at Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin, cutting 40 percent of global production of the precious metal.

The union was demanding R12,500 a month as a basic minimum salary to be achieved in four years.

The companies offered pay increases of up to 10 percent, which would raise the overall minimum pay package to 12,500 by July 2017, although this includes cash allowances for necessities such as housing.

The strike did lead to a three-year settlement after a deal was reached between the parties.