Chamber, Cosatu agree on labour framework

[] — GOLD sector members of the Chamber of Mines on
Thursday agreed to some significant concessions as they and trade federation Cosatu
discussed the details of an action plan which both parties hoped would bring an end to
the ongoing spate of wildcat strikes at South Africa’s mines.

The meeting came after the collective bargaining forum of the gold and coal sectors
on Wednesday agreed to fast-track a job re-grading exercise that could result in
additional wage increases for entry-level workers within the parameters of the two
sectors’ existing wage agreements.

While the gold miners are desperately trying to bring an end to a series wildcat
strikes that so far have affected all of South Africa’s major producers, Cosatu and its
affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers, are attempting to regain the initiative
where workers have largely decided to act outside formal labour structures.

It doesn’t seem, however, as if any of the parties foresee an imminent end to the
labour action.

Thursday’s meeting was attended by Mark Cutifani and Nick Holland, the CEOs of
AngloGold and Gold Fields respectively, Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi and
the trade federation’s president, S’dumo Dlamini, NUM President Senzeni Zokwana, as
well as senior officials of the Chamber of Mines.

The gold sector members agreed to a deadline of end-October for the re-grading
exercise, while they also endorsed Cosatu’s call for a commission of inquiry into the
working and living conditions in the mining industry.

The two parties further said they would “investigate different working arrangements
that will improve productivity and the competitive position of the industry, with
associated profit share agreements for employees’.

The gold sector players weren’t prepared to state it explicitly but have seemingly
committed not to dismiss any striking employee for the time being.

“We won’t be looking to do anything that will jeopardise the goodwill that was created
here,’ Cutifani said.

The workers, for now, won’t be pushed by the unions to return to work.

“We are going to consult our structures and outline the agreement that we’ve
reached,’ Zokwana said. “Consultation means that we’ll be interacting with them and
explaining the complexities that are involved.’