South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has announced that it may reach a decision next week on the issue of whether or not to strike at gold companies over wages.
There’s been “no positive engagement” with stakeholders in the gold industry, AMCU treasurer Jimmy Gama said in a phone interview with Bloomberg News. “We have given some reports to the shop steward committee about the lack of progress,” he added.
Gold companies last month reached a wage pact with all labour groups except the AMCU, which represents 19% of miners. Unions may strike legally at mines where they are recognised as the majority labour group, deputy rresident Kgalema Motlanthe said last month.
AMCU represents 65% of workers at Sibanye Gold Limited’s Driefontein, as well as 73% of workers at Harmony Gold Mining Company’s Kusasalethu mine and the majority at AngloGold Ashanti Limited’s Mponeng operation.
“The gold industry’s position remains unchanged: “There is a valid agreement in place,” Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for gold producers who works at Russell & Associates, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Any strike action would be considered to be unprocedural and the industry would seek a court interdict to confirm that the agreement is and remains legally binding.”
The AMCU is also holding wage negotiations with companies mining platinum. Its members, the largest labour group at Impala Platinum Holdings Limited, voted on October 28 to strike over wages. The union has written to Impala, and if there’s no change “we will have to decide if we’ll serve our notice,” Gama said.
The spot price for platinum rose to a six-week high, advancing 1.2% to $1,478.70 by 5:39 p.m. in Johannesburg, the highest intra-day level since September 19.
Impala accounts for about 25% of global platinum supply. The AMCU is demanding basic monthly wages for underground workers of R12 500 (US$1 267) from the three largest South African platinum producers, where it has usurped the National Union of Mineworkers as the dominant labour representative.
“It might happen that a strike could happen jointly” with other platinum companies,” Gama said. The union is also in wage negotiations with Anglo American Platinum Limited and Lonmin plc.
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