South African Trade union Solidarity has rejected an opening wage offer by platinum mining company Lonmin plc.

Fin24 reports that, revealing this development, Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said the company had offered skilled employees a 6% pay rise and 7% for entry-level employees, for the next four years.

Solidarity believed the offer was not in line with the inflation pressures its members faced and did not compensate them for the contribution they made to production. Lonmin had also failed to respond to Solidarity’s other demands.

Du Plessis called on Lonmin to offer its skilled employees better salaries and scrap the proposed four-year wage agreement.

“We also appeal to our members to have realistic wage expectations,” he said.
Despite the low wage offer, Solidarity commended Lonmin for the initiatives it had introduced to provide support to employees.

This support included providing financial literacy training to employees, revising leave and shift systems, and making it possible for migrant workers in particular to spend more time with their families.

Other initiatives included implementing an employee share scheme, notable reductions in the use of labour brokers, and upgrading hostels to family units. All these issues had contributed to the labour unrest that had broken out at Lonmin last year,” Du Plessis said.

In his estimate, instability in the labour relations environment over the past 16 months had caused the loss of 6 000 potential jobs at Lonmin.

Regarding wages, Solidarity called on other unions and Lonmin employees to place more value on long-term goals which would benefit everyone, instead of short-term, strategic trade union objectives.

He said the union’s negotiations with Lonmin over recognition were at a sensitive stage.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which represents 60% of Lonmin’s workforce, was recognised as the majority union at the company in July.

The agreement shut out minority unions, and Solidarity, which represents 3% of the skilled workers, referred a dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA).

Solidarity and Lonmin have, since then, committed themselves to constructive negotiations to restore minority unions’ recognition.

He said quarterly follow-up talks between those in the mining sector and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, would take place next week.

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.