South African
labour minister
Mildred Oliphant
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — 26 July 2013 – Threats of a strike in the South African gold mining sector are premature, according to the latest statement by the country’s Chamber of Mines.

“Talk of strike action points to ignorance of both the negotiation process and of the recent history of wage negotiations in the gold sector,” said Chamber spokesperson Elize Strydom, on behalf of gold producers.

She emphasised that gold producers disagreed with reports of looming strikes after wage talks deadlocked on Wednesday.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity, and UASA declared a dispute, and referred the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. “We share the very measured stance taken by our union counterparts which have declared a dispute,” Strydom said.

Dispute declarations formed part of wage negotiation processes and had been a feature of gold sector wage negotiations for the past 20 years. She said dispute declaration signalled the start of a structured, orderly mediation process.

“Both dispute declaration and mediation are legal provisions, and that they have been taken up entirely responsibly in this way by the parties concerned shows the on-going commitment of these parties to the process and the rule of law,” Strydom declared.

During Wednesday’s talks, the producers tabled a revised offer of 5% in respect of wages and benefits. The NUM had wanted surface workers to earn a minimum of R7,000 a month, and underground and open-cast workers R8,000 a month. Solidarity wanted a 10% increase.

"Solidarity still hopes that an agreement within the best interests of the gold sector can be reached and has urged the executives of the employers in the gold sector to put their negotiators in a better bargaining position," general secretary Gideon du Plessis said.

Labour minister Mildred Oliphant called on unions and producers to put the interests of the economy and the country first. “I want to appeal to all employers and employee representatives who are involved in wage negotiations to do so in good faith. If there is a deadlock, give the facilitation a chance. There is absolutely no reason why the different parties cannot find the middle ground,” she stated. She hoped strikes would be a last resort.

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.