AMCU lifts curtain on platinum wage talks with R12,500 demand

Joseph Mathunjwa, president, Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union

THE Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) intends to kick off wage negotiations in the platinum sector on July 12 at Impala Platinum (Implats) where it will demand a R12,500/month for lowest paid workers.

Increases of 15% for other bands will be demanded along with a five day working week. A one-year wage agreement is contemplated.

At a press conference, AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa, said that given the rate of which inflation was running, it was “necessary for every worker to have a minimum wage of R12,500/month”. Although AMCU is seeking a one-year deal, it would accept an extended deal of two to three years if given the mandate from members.

Asked if AMCU members had the appetite for a lengthy strike in the event of not agreeing a wage deal, Mathunjwa said; “We will give them [platinum companies] a strike if they demand it”. AMCU led a five-and-a-half month strike in the platinum sector during 2013.

“It is not an earthquake,” he said of demands for the usual R12,500/month minimum wage. “We want what is due to us,” he said.

Mathunjwa said negotiations would open with Impala Platinum on July 12, followed by Lonmin (July 13), and Anglo American Platinum (July 14).

AMCU was prepared to engage the platinum companies collectively on wage talks. “It is entirely up to them if they want to club together and come to us,” he said. “At the end of the day, if our demands are met … that is what matters most. If they want to be collective, that does not make any difference to us,” he said.

Variations on wage settlements would also be contemplated.

“The three-year agreement we entered into (from 2013) … there were some items that were different at certain operations,” he said, adding: “That does not mean we were sympathetic to them as they were giving themselves huge bonuses during the strike”.

Asked if members had the appetite for another extended strike and whether they had recovered economically, Mathunjwa said: “The issue of recovering can be misplaced. If you look at the platinum now compared to where it was in 2013, it is in a much better position”.

“We need to graduate from the point that if you improve salaries it will cost jobs. The issue here is the economy that doesn’t address the issues that affect people,” he said.

“Secondly, the [platinum] companies have retrenched, so they are geared for a better wage increase,” he said. The price of platinum has improved about 25% year to date and was last trading at $1,084/oz.

Mathunjwa dismissed a 20% wage increase demand made by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) of the platinum companies as a publicity stunt. “We are not in competition with any so-called NUM; we are on our own; we are not pressurised by any demands that were never realised. It is just a PR exercise of some sort,” he said.

12 COMMENTS

  1. ‘We need to graduate from the point that if you improve salaries it will cost jobs..’ Interesting narrative indeed. I can only imagine what will happened to the non-unionized employees especially those in the C-upper band and junior D-band. Embrace yourselves, A Tsunami of VSPs is heading your way…

  2. Most of the mining companies that have been shedding workers in large numbers are due to liquidation processes and restructuring influenced by weak financial performance. The price of commodity, energy, crude oil, and weaker rand and other factors might have played a pivotal role in the past periods. In the first quarter of 2016 STAT SA reported that the mining companies lost almost more than 11 000 workers. It might be correct that executives salaries are still very higher and the gap might not be acceptable between lower paid workers and executives. Yesterday there was a report that some international financial agency warned South Africa of higher wages and salaries which might contribute to future country downgrade, especially civil servants who are 25% higher than their counter parts in equivalent countries in the same position as SA. Economic contraction in general is international phenomenon. The big wage gap amongst workers in South Africa is historical. On the same breath the category of workers on artisan level, lower band and middle management and senior level management is historical. All these evil labour issues in South Africa are historical. Currently the commodity price, oil price, rand value and other economic factors have improved but one doubt if they are all sustainable. The country downgrading is a reality, is a international global issue and its result are economical devastating and carries far reaching economic implication. The higher wage gap cannot be corrected by 20% salary increase without causing more liquidation and subsequent retrenchment of more workers in the sector. In South Africa shareholder activism seems to be foreign, in well established unions like NUM there is unit called Employee Shareholder Owner Scheme (ESOS) but for all that I know this program is only for workers shareholding in their respective employers, however as a matter of principle shareholders must have right to engage on any issue that affect their respective companies. Lastly but least two wrongs do make anything right like in mathematics negative plus positive makes zero and two negative multiplies makes positives.

  3. Comment:in our country black man lives like a raw material of a white man,plz amcu president let us fight for young generations. Let us Join hand together and fight for better future in mining companies in south africa. White man must know that we are not slaves, we are the same like them with blood and soul. T. Man

  4. Mines will continue to shed jobs because not solely for the cyclical nature of the commodity industry but, because of the greed of the mining captains. The 3:2:1 philosophy has and continues to be applied and even with the introduction of machinery, workers will continue to be retrenched.

    Any self-respecting trade union should understand that the real enemy of the working people is the capitalist class and any public spats will turn to hound them. The capitalist class enjoy this foolishness while they climb up the ladder of divide-and-rule and the victim is the poor mineworkers that this union claims to represent. They celebrate you now but when your date has arrived and gone, they will spew you like bubble-gum.

    if you don not understand mathematics, try foolishness and continue to be an idiot.

  5. Comment:we agree with one thing,all the mine sectors must pay their employees it is important by the way our president said it the economy of mine have gone up highly since 2014 to 2015

  6. And behind all the smoke and mirrors, you will find those who are currently in power fighting to retain that power, the others pushing to topple those in power out of power. O, yes and those who lost power fighting to regain the power and still: Those that suffered because of apartheid now suffers because of this fight for power. When will this end: when there is nothing left to fight over. And the poor will still suffer.

  7. Thank you Tata Mathunjwa put poor in same equilibrium with next to the wealth people.God save and bless for us.forward with your battle until we reach our R12-500

  8. No ways foward with 12;5000 after deductions.We suffered from generation to generation this is the end for whites to rule n cntroll our lives in mining industry,enough is enough Viva AMCU.Viva

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