Minerals Minister urges stakeholders to be realistic in wage talks

Platinum producers are preparing to start wage talks in the sector.

FILE: Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - As platinum producers prepare to start wage talks in the sector, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has called on stakeholders to be realistic during negotiations.

Zwane was speaking yesterday at a health and safety imbizo at Sibanye Gold's Driefontein operation.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has resurrected its demand for a R12,500 minimum wage per month, which amounts to a 56% increase.

The union is also demanding a housing allowance of R6,500 at Anglo American and R5,000 per month at other mines.

Zwane said mine bosses and unions must avoid a strike.

"We're requesting stability in the sector. If we can avoid the strike, let's avoid the strike and be able to come up with an agreed position and move forward."

A strike led by Amcu in 2014 hit platinum producers hard, forcing them to cut jobs and close some mines.

Amcu's Jimmy Gama said they hope the sector won't see a repeat.

"A strike is something that's not in our mind at this point in time."

Lonmin's Sue Vey said they're optimistic they will find common ground.

"Under the current circumstances, I think no one can afford to have a strike."


Zwane also said his department would take stern action against mining companies where workers died due to negligence.

So far this year there have been 49 fatalities in the mining sector, an increase from 42 last year.

Zwane said when mine companies prioritised the safety of workers, the deaths would decrease.

He promised to deal with companies that didn't adhere to safety measures.

Zwane said his office has added 38 inspectors this year to enhance enforcement of compliance at mines.


Meanwhile, the Chamber of Mines President Mike Teke said mines, government and labour needed to go beyond their differences to save lives.

"We must go beyond those differences and collaborate and build our relationships to try and save our lives."

Zwane said Sibanye Gold was among the mining companies that performed poorly in terms of safety checks.

He also told mining bosses not to put profit before the lives of workers, calling on the mining companies to take extraordinary measures to stem fatalities in the sector.