JOHANNESBURG, May 13 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) wants the basic pay for entry level workers in the gold mining industry to be more than doubled, setting the stage for tough pay talks at a time when companies are complaining of dwindling profits.
Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters on Wednesday his union, which led a record five-month long strike in the platinum industry last year, would seek a monthly wage of 12,500 rand ($1,045) for workers who currently earn around 6,000 rand.
“The mineworkers are enslaved across the country. Whatever we put forward is to liberate the mining workers from this oppression,” Mathunjwa said.
However, Africa’s top bullion producers AngloGold Ashanti , Sibanye Gold Harmony Gold and Pan African Resource’s Evander Mines say that high pay increases would lead to the decline of a struggling industry.
A spokeswoman for the gold mining companies said the firms would consider job security and the sustainability of the industry in wage talks.
“We have to consider that up to 50 percent of gold production is either unprofitable or marginal,” said Charmane Russell in reaction to AMCU’s demands.
AMCU had also called for a doubling of wages in the platinum sector last year, sparking the costly industry stoppage. In the end, it settled for raises of around 20 percent annually.
Platinum companies found the increases and the long strike hard to swallow. Lonmin said last week it would cut 3,500 jobs at its South African mines.
Mathunjwa told Reuters the union was talking to Lonmin over the retrenchment plans.
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