Gold producers Anglogold Ashanti and Harmony Gold have signed a three-year gold wage agreement with unions National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and UASA for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018.

However, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction union (AMCU) once again rejected the companies’ offers, and has been granted certificate of non-resolution by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) following the declaration of disputes with AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony and Sibanye.

The NUM, UASA and Solidarity collectively represent the majority of employees at AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony, and around 62% of employees in the gold companies represented by the Chamber of Mines.

A ‘peace clause’ contained in the agreement, ensures that no industrial action concerning terms and conditions of employment during the existence of the agreement may be embarked on, as the issue of conditions of employment has been settled for the duration of the agreement, and no demands may be made during the course of the agreement.

Accordingly, any industrial action concerning terms and conditions of employment during the existence of the agreement will be in contravention of the ‘peace clause’ and thus unprotected.

Meanwhile, Sibanye Gold, has still not reached an agreement with the unions and has said it will continue to engage until it reaches an agreement, while Evander Gold Mines continues to engage with NUM in bilateral talks.

“After months of tough, yet respectful negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that will make a significant difference to the lives of employees and will ensure the sustainability of the industry as far as possible.

“The wage settlements reached between the relevant companies and unions are substantial – between 10% and 13% increase in basic wage for entry-level employees in each of the three years of the agreement. Put differently, for entry-level employees this is an increase of between R25 000 and R30 000 per employee over the three-year period, Chamber of Mines chief negotiator Dr Elize Strydom said on behalf of the producers.

Strydom said that the agreements reached between the two companies and the NUM, Solidarity and UASA are final. “This is the only deal that will be agreed,” she said, adding that the producers cannot and will not negotiate different deals with different parties.

Offers made and agreement reached

In terms of the offers made by the companies, guaranteed wages for entry-level employees excluding bonuses and overtime, will rise to between R97 000 and R106 000 per annum in the third year of the agreement. In addition, incentive-based pay in the gold industry, in the form bonuses and overtime, comprises a significant portion of the total wage bill and can materially increase employees’ take-home pay.

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