Johannesburg, South Africa — 16 July 2013 – The Chamber of Mines of South Africa has offered a 4% pay rise to gold industry employees “’ which is far less than the 60 to 100% demanded by trade unions in the run-up to the wage talks which started last week.    

Revealing this here, Solidarity, which represents just over 2% of workers in the sector, also said no agreement had been reached on the “house rules” for the talks, which have been billed as the most difficult since apartheid ended in 1994, reports Fin24.

The Chamber of Mines, representing firms employing 120,000 of the gold sector’s 140,000 workers, has warned that the typical two-month talks could be dragged out by a vicious union turf war that has cut production and caused numerous wildcat walk-outs.

“They (mining firms) are pleading poverty,” said Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis. “The chamber would have to raise its offer dramatically to create the atmosphere for a settlement,” he added.

Gold producers argue that at the current spot price, 60% of the country’s gold mines are either marginal or unprofitable. They have shed 14,000 jobs over the past two years and could cut more if their wage bills increase dramatically.

“It is going to require us to work together to find the balance between what the companies can afford and what employees need,” said Chamber of Mines chief negotiator, Elize Strydom.

Analysts see a settlement coming in at close to 10%, well above the inflation rate, currently at about 6%.

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.