In an effort to reach common ground between gold producers and unions during the latest round of gold wage negotiations, the gold companies tabled a conditional offer for a period of three years.
The conditional offer is aimed at improving employee wages and benefits and is conditional on the removal of a number of high-cost demands.
For the first year, the conditional offers made by the companies range between:
- 2% and 8.2% for Category 4 underground employees; and
- 4% and 5% for miners and artisans, and officials.
Since gold wage negotiations started on 11 July 2018 – against a background of a stagnant gold price, rising costs and falling profitability of the sector – the gold producers have tabled two offers and have made a number of concessions related to non-wage demands.
The key benefits on which concessions have been made on non-wage demands include:
- Extension of the medical contribution for category 4 to 8 employees to 60% companies and 40% employees for the duration of the agreement;
- Increase of the minimum medical incapacity benefit to R60 000 over a three-year period;
- Increase of the minimum severance pay to R36 000 over a three-year period;
- Agreement to engage at company level with the Igula Provident Fund, or any other fund, as an additional retirement fund option. This is conditional on compliance by these funds with all applicable legislation, and the interests of all employees; and
- Agreement to introduce a 0.5% service increment per year for Officials from 1 July 2019 at some companies.
However, there have not been any significant moves on the part of unions. At the outset of wage negotiations, there were at least 137 demands tabled, 62 of which have significant cost implications.
Chief Negotiator on behalf of the gold producers, Motsamai Motlhamme noted in the plenary session with unions on 21 August 2018 that: “Without wishing to repeat the economic reality of the industry in this forum again, it is important that all parties take into account that ours is a mature industry.
“As employers, we cannot accede to all the demands tabled by the unions – they are unaffordable and will severely impact the sustainability of old and marginal mines, in particular, and the industry’s ability to continue to provide employment and benefits to employees,” Motlhamme said.
Gold wage negotiations are still underway between producers, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony, Sibanye-Stillwater and Village Main Reef, and representative unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and UASA.
Wage negotiations will continue on Wednesday 29 August 2018.