CARLETONVILLE, South Africa, June 7 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) will launch a wildcat strike if its rival union and gold mining companies impose a wage deal on its members, its president said on Sunday.
“If NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) and Chamber of Mines want to extend their deal to us, we will sit down, whether it’s legal or not. We will strike,” Joseph Mathunjwa said to cheers from thousands of workers gathered at a stadium in Carletonville, 80 km (50 miles) west of Johannesburg.
Under South African labour laws, wage deals between the majority union and employers can be extended to smaller unions.
The hardline AMCU union is demanding a more than doubling of wages from gold companies AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye Gold, Harmony Gold and Pan African Resource’s Evander Mines.
About 10,000 AMCU members wearing trademark green t-shirts, waving the union’s flags and carrying placards with slogans such as “A Living Wage For All” streamed into the stadium outside Sibanye Gold’s Driefontein mine.
“I’ve been saving money to sustain my family for months if we go on strike and it looks we are going to go strike,” Joseph Mpele, a 32-year-old underground miner for Sibanye Gold said outside the stadium.
“I’m prepared and ready to stay away from work for even longer than my platinum comrades last year. What’s the point of going back to work when I’m not happy with my pay?”
AMCU, which has 29 percent of the workforce in the gold sector, led a five-month wage strike last year in the platinum sector. Gold sector wage talks are set to begin this month as the previous two-year pay agreement expires at the end of June.
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