Amplats’ five-year wage deal could involve new share ownership plan, says bank

A FIVE year wage agreement between unions and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) could involve a new employee share ownership plan, according to an investment report published today.

RMB Morgan Stanley analysts said the share ownership plan was highlighted by Amplats during discussions with it last week. It “… could well form part of/be ancillary to this round of wage agreements,” the bank said.

“Anglo American Platinum remains committed to reaching a mutually beneficial settlement with our stakeholder unions that ensures employees continue to be fairly rewarded for their work,” said Amplats spokeswoman, Nomonde Ndwalaza in a statement.

Citing the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU), Bloomberg News said today the new wage deal could be signed this week and would be effective from July.

“The agreement has been reached in-principle and we are about to sign the offer with Anglo,” Mphahlele said. “We are just dealing with the final wording of the agreement itself,” said Jeff Mphahlele, general secretary for AMCU.

Amplats has agreed to give its workers a monthly increase of R1,100 in the first year of the deal, rising to R1,500 in the fifth year, Mphahlele said. AMCU has been holding joint negotiations with its former rival, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the newswire added.

RMB Morgan Stanley said it was impossible to judge the percentage increases of the wages until the agreement was disclosed in its entirety, but it added that “… we would expect the final percentage increase to come in well ahead of inflation”.

It also said that an early settlement at the more mechanised Amplats operations “… could be used as leverage by the unions against the more labour intensive Western Limb Implats and Sibanye-Stillwater mines”.

Sibanye-Stillwater is due to start its wage talks on June 1.

The strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations in South African, launched by AMCU and the NUM is currently into its third month “… and could further complicate the company’s PGM negotiations,” said the bank.

In its report, Bloomberg News said negotiations with another platinum group metal miner, Impala Platinum (Implats), were progressing well.

“It’s in everybody’s interest to secure an agreement for an extended period of time,” said Implats spokesman Johan Theron. “It helps bring stability and the employer knows what the labour cost is going to be. It’s easier to make long-term plans,” he told Bloomberg.