The consolidated conciliation process under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, or CCMA, between gold producers AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony, Sibanye-Stillwater and Village Main Reef, and unions the Association of Mining and Construction Union, the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and UASA has begun.
AngloGold Ashanti is currently not in dispute with AMCU, UASA and Solidarity, and bilateral engagements between these parties are continuing.
Moe Ally and Duduzile Madubanye, who have both been involved in gold wage negotiations in their roles as plenary chairpersons, as well as Mduduzi Khumalo, have been appointed by the CCMA to conciliate the dispute.
Chief negotiator on behalf of the gold producers, Motsamai Motlhamme says that the gold producers are fully committed to constructive and meaningful engagement with a view to reach an agreement that will not compromise the sustainability of an industry already in crisis.
Since wage negotiations started on 11 July, the gold producers have made three offers to all the unions participating in centralised collective bargaining (AMCU, NUM, UASA and Solidarity). Notwithstanding the perilous state of the gold sector, the offers made were credible and focused on improving the wages and benefits of employees.
Initially, movements by the unions to reduce the 137 demands, 62 of which had significant cost implications were limited.
Wage negotiations timeline
On 18 July, the producers tabled a three-year offer that would have seen entry-level underground employees receiving increases in the first year of between 5.5% and 6.5%, while Miners, Artisans and Officials would have received increases of between 3% and 4.5%.
On 2 August, the producers tabled a three-year offer that would have seen entry-level underground employees receiving increases in the first year of between 6% and 7.2%, while Miners, Artisans and Officials would have received increases of between 3.5% and 4.5%.
The conditional offer, tabled to all unions on 21 August, was aimed at improving employee wages and benefits and was conditional on the removal of a number of high-cost demands. The three-year offer would have seen entry-level underground employees receiving increases in the first year of between 6.2% and 8.2%, while Miners, Artisans and Officials would have received increases of between 4% and 5%.
On 21 August, the NUM declared a dispute with all four gold companies.
On 29 August, AMCU, Solidarity and UASA declared a dispute with Harmony and Village Main Reef and on 5 September, AMCU declared a dispute with Sibanye-Stillwater. These matters were referred to the CCMA for conciliation.
The CCMA consolidated all disputes referred at the time into one dispute on the basis that the parties were engaging in one negotiations forum on more or less the same substantive issues relating wages and conditions of employment.
Between 21 August and 5 September, bilateral engagements between the companies and unions not in dispute continued and moves were made by employers and unions.
“Conciliation is about finding a resolution. We urge all parties to act responsibly and to make use of this process to reach an agreement that will be in the best interest of all stakeholders,” says Motlhamme.
Further discussions are scheduled to continue on 20 September 2018.