Johannesburg, South Africa — 03 June 2013 – The Chamber of Mines of South Africa has called on trade unions and employers in the country’s mining industry to act professionally and within the law in order to ensure peaceful wage talks this year.

“It is going to very tough for a great many reasons,” Elize Strydom, senior executive for industrial relations at the Chamber of Mines, told SAfm Radio in an interview monitored by Fin24.

“We also have a new trade union that will be participating in the negotiations “’ the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) “’ and we will have to be very professional about this,” she said.

“We will have to agree up-front “’ all the unions and the companies “’ to the rules of the game; on how we are going to engage with one another so that we conduct our negotiations in a professional way.”

Strydom warned again that the National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM) demands were “incredibly high”.

The NUM has demanded a 60% increase for entry-level wages and wants the monthly housing and living-out allowances to be bumped up dramatically.

“That demand is incredibly high, bearing in mind that the entry-level wage in the mining industry is already the highest of all entry-level wages in labour-intensive industries in this country,” said Strydom. So a 60% increase is very steep, but we will do our job and go into the negotiations and we will see if we can find common ground.”

She said the NUM had requested a pre-negotiations indaba which the chamber would consider.

“The NUM asked us to meet for a pre-negotiations indaba… we agreed to meet. What we will be talking about, is what the NUM’s ideas are around a pre-negotiations indaba.”

This year’s wage talks are crucial after countrywide mining unrest last year left dozens of people dead.

“The stakes are incredibly high and it will require all the stakeholders to work collectively to ensure there is peace and stability; that we conduct our wage negotiations in a professional manner; and that people respect the law so that we can come to an outcome mutually beneficial to the companies and employees,” Strydom continued.

“It’s absolutely critical… We have to respect the law and operate within the parameters of the law.”

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.