Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 24 June 2008 – Anglo Platinum – the world’s largest producer of the precious metal – has paid an ex-gratia increase to its 46 000 workers to cushion them against inflation, unions have revealed.
Reporting this development from here, Reuters pointed out that Anglo Platinum had agreed to a wage deal last September that would have seen some of its workers get a 9% rise and the rest an 8% increase as from July this year.
Instead it has increased their pay by 10.4% as a buffer against inflation, the news agency reports. South Africa’s CPIX inflation stood at 10.4% in April, which prompted the central bank to hike interest rates further, increasing financial pressures on workers. The country is due to report May CPIX inflation this week.
Anglo Platinum made it clear, however, that it would not open negotiations to change the existing two-year wage deal. The company said it wanted to alleviate the difficult economic circumstances facing its workers, and that it would have liked to have paid an even bigger amount if productivity improvements had allowed.
Reuters reported that the ex-gratia increase received mixed reaction from unions.
The black-dominated and biggest South African mineworkers’ union – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – said the increase should have been even higher to help workers cope.
“If Angloplat was more compassionate, the increase could have been far better than that. It could have brought the increase to workers’ pay to more than 12%, given the fact that fuel, electricity and food costs are rising higher,” said NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.
Reint Dykema – mining spokesman for Solidarity, a traditionally white trade union – welcomed the increase. “We’re thankful for this gesture, and it will ensure the long-term stability at their operations,” he said.
Anglo Platinum, which produces about 40% of the world’s platinum supply, was forced to trim its annual output estimate to 2.4 million oz from 2.47 million oz in 2007, due to power cuts that have curbed production at South African mines since the start of the year.