Gold wage talks: Mixed reaction to social compact proposal

The Chamber Of Mines has called on unions not to make wages the focal point of the talks.

Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - There have been mixed reactions to a social compact proposed by the Chamber of Mines of South Africa during this year's gold wage negotiations, which start today.

The chamber has called on unions not to make wages the focal point but rather negotiate to ensure the sustainability of the industry.

The gold price has dropped significantly over the last 10 years but has been offset by the rand/dollar exchange.

But the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)'s general secretary David Sipunzi said they hope the compact is not a delaying tactic.

"We got the presentation about this compact of theirs last week. We're studying the document. We still have to respond to them. But we wish this idea of theirs is not a ploy to stall or interfere with these current negotiations."

Solidarity's general secretary Gideon du Plessis said they're also hopeful the retirement age will be addressed in the compact.

"If we can find a way that we can also increase the time and age through this compact, we will definitely look at it. At this stage, for our members, it's more important to work until the age of 63."

The United Association of South Africa's Frans Stehring said their members will most likely benefit from the proposal.

"We will see what comes up from their side but we're quite sure that we'll be able to get a deal that suits people."