NUM secretary-general
Frans Baleni
Johannesburg, South Africa — 29 April 2013 – The National Union of Mineworkers says it will ask for a double-digit increase in pay when its next round of negotiations with the Chamber of Mines takes place in May.

The demand will apply across the mining industry, NUM secretary-general Frans Baleni told Bloomberg News by mobile phone. “We will try to conclude the negotiations before July 1,” he added.

With industry-wide wage talks looming, tensions between labour groups are intensifying.

Lonmin plc  ended a six-week strike at Marikana last year by agreeing to pay increases of 11 to 22%. Strikes in 2012 spread from platinum to gold and coal mines, costing Africa’s biggest economy US$494 million.

The NUM vies with the National Union of Metalworkers to be the biggest in the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which has been in alliance with the African National Congress since the first all-race elections in 1994.

 “A couple of companies are making profits,” Baleni said, adding that the union is keeping track of fluctuations in commodity prices.

Platinum prices have declined 5.9% and gold has retreated 8.5% this year, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. South Africa produces three-quarters of the world’s platinum.

Gold, coal and most of platinum producers’ wage agreements will expire at the end of June, Elize Strydom, senior executive for employment relations at the Johannesburg-based Chamber of Mines, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“The AMCU indicated that it would reflect on the Chamber’s proposal and reasons given for the proposal and would revert formally,” Strydom said.

The NUM is losing support to other organisations, including the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which is the biggest representative of workers at Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum  and Impala Platinum Holdings Limited “’ the three largest producers, according to preliminary figures from the companies.
The AMCU and management of platinum companies met on March 15 to explore the possibility of negotiating directly with the Chamber “’ which is the case in the gold and coal industries “’ instead of holding talks at the company level, according to Strydom.

The NUM will be holding discussions with the Chamber on behalf of its 310,000 members, according to Baleni. “I can’t say if we are going to strike or not,” he said. “It depends on the outcome of the negotiations.”

Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.