Despite the tabling of revised wages and demands last week by gold producers and unions, the parties remain far apart in the 2015 gold wage negotiations, the Chamber of Mines (CoM) has said.

The Chamber, representing gold producers AngloGold Ashanti, Evander Gold Mines, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Gold and Village Main Reef maintained its initial basic wage offer of between 7.8% to 13% for category 4 to 8 employees, while it also maintained its gain share offer, as the gold producers “cannot increase its current wage and gain-share offers without affecting the sustainability of the sector and threatening jobs,” CoM chief negotiator Dr Elize Strydom said on behalf of the producers.

The producers did, however, increase the minimum amount an employee may be entitled to in the event of retrenchment by 50% from R20 000 to R30 000 over five years.

The medical incapacity benefits have also been increased by 37.5% from R40 000 to R55 000 (37.5%) over five years for category 4 to 8 employees, as was the extension of the 2013 agreement where the employer’s current medical aid co-contribution ratio for category 4 to 8 employees will be 60% for the duration of this agreement.

An agreement was also reached that the retirement age for all surface workers will be 63 years.

However, similar proposals for underground workers requires greater discussion by the parties for all the possible issues related to this could be properly understood including occupational health issues, issues pertaining to retirement funds and productivity, as well as Rand Mutual and ODMWA funding, for which the Chamber proposed establishing a task team.

“The Economic and Social Sustainability Agreement is critical to the long-term sustainability of the industry, and its ability to preserve jobs,” Strydom said, encouraging the unions to engage with their members on the details contained within its proposal.

“The parties are aware of the severe economic headwinds our industry is facing, including a dollar gold price which has steadily declined in recent years,” Strydom said, adding that the gold producers and unions have the joint responsibility of doing what is in the best interest of the industry, employees and members.

In addition to the fourth round of the 2015 gold wage negotiations, discussions with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) were also undertaken – notwithstanding the revised demands by the NUM, UASA and Solidarity.

The gold producers met with AMCU on a company-by-company basis on Friday to resolve differences of opinion on representation.

The companies confirm that discussions were constructive and that the parties will meet where further feedback or processes have been agreed to.

The gold wage negotiations process will continue this week and include bilateral meetings with each union to discuss union-specific issues following which the parties will reconvene.

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