SA union makes above-inflation 15% wage demand for gold and coal sectors
By: Chanel Pringle
JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday submitted its wage demands for the 2009 negotiations to the Chamber of Mines (CoM), asking for a 15% increase in wages and increased medical aid benefits.
“The mandate is clear and our members say they expect no excuses from [the coal- and gold-mining] industry,” NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said in a statement. The NUM noted that it would settle for nothing less than a 15% increase on wages.
Further, the union was demanding that employees receive medical aid benefits, for which they would pay 30% and the employers the balance. In addition, it wanted the minimum basic rate for underground entry level mineworkers to be R5 000 a month, while the minimum living out allowance should be adjusted to R1 500 a month. The NUM also expected the homeowners allowance to be increased to R5 000 a month or 25% of the monthly repayment of the mortgage, depending on which amount was greater.
NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka had said in previous interviews that the union’s members would not be the “sacrificial lambs” in this round of negotiations. Increased demand for coal as a result of South Africa’s infrastructure spending, the high gold price and the fact that gold was seen as a safe-haven commodity by investors were some of the reasons why the union expected their wage demands to be met.
However, CoM chief negotiator Dr Elize Strydom had noted in earlier interviews that continuously lowering production figures also had to be taken into account by the union. The union expected negotiations to start in the second week of May. Strydom noted that the unions and the sector would hopefully conclude the negotiations by the end of July or early August, despite the former two-year wage negotiation agreement expiring in June.
Edited by: Terence Creamer