SOUTH Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Wednesday it planned to seek a 15% annual wage hike in gold sector over the three year period.
Higher bullion prices, which reached a record in August last year, boosted 2020 earnings and offered gold miners a lifeline following production disruptions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NUM, the main union in the gold sector, said it would seek a hike of between 15% to 20% or 15,000 rand ($1,016) minimum, alongside other demands including medical aid contributions and COVID-19 health and safety leave.
“Given the good dividend performances by mining companies NUM enters this season of negotiations in high spirit for a good settlement,” NUM said.
Gold producers have in the past argued that above-inflation wage hikes cannot be sustained unless prices and add to the cost burden in an industry the has the world’s deepest mines.
However unions say wages remain too low, a legacy of apartheid when the Black mining labour force was ruthlessly exploited.
The demands far exceed the current inflation rate of 2.9% raising the prospect of potentiality tough negotiations with companies including Sibanye Stillwater SSWJ.J, Harmony Gold HARJ.J and smaller producer Village Main Reef.
The wage talks with companies are expected to begin in the coming months but an exact date has not yet been set.
- Staff Reporter-News Agencies