Johannesburg, South Africa — 30 July 2013 – The South African Chamber of Mines has declared a dispute with labour group the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Workers Union (AMCU) in gold negotiations, a move that will likely place wage talks for the entire sector before a government-affiliated mediator.
“AMCU has rejected the gold producers’ revised offer of a 5% increase in wages and benefits. The producers have indicated that they cannot accede to AMCU’s demands, in respect of which AMCU has not moved at all in respect of its demands,” the chamber said in a statement issued here, reports Fin24.
The move is expected to lead to all parties taking their dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for mediation.
Last week, three separate unions in the talks with the gold mining firms represented by the Chamber of Mines declared an official dispute, saying two weeks of talks had stalled and needed outside help.
AMCU, a militant union new to collective bargaining in the sector, did not join the other groups.
The wage talks have been billed as some of the most difficult labour negotiations since the end of apartheid in 1994, due to increased union militancy that has coincided with soaring costs and falling prices for gold.
Bullion producers are offering a wage increase of 5%, slightly below South Africa’s 6% inflation rate and well short of the 60% to 100% pay hikes demanded by workers.
South Africa’s labour laws allow for wage disputes to be referred to an outside mediator. If that fails, employees are allowed to go on a legal strike.
Last week, the NUM, Solidarity and UASA unions, which will collectively approach a mediator, and represent 73.6% of the 120,000 mineworkers employed by gold producers in pay negotiations, declared the official wage dispute.
Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.