Chamber of Mines takes Amcu to court

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Johannesburg - The Chamber of Mines has filed papers in the Johannesburg Labour Court against labour union Amcu over its intention to strike in the gold sector.

“Yes... papers have been filed, the court hearing is tomorrow (Wednesday),” chamber spokeswoman Charmane Russell said in an e-mail to Sapa.

On Monday, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union announced it would embark on a strike in both the platinum and gold sectors after issuing employers with strike notices. The union wanted an entry-level monthly salary of R12,500.

The strikes were scheduled to take place at Sibanye Gold's Driefontein mine, Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu and Masimong mines, and at all of AngloGold Ashanti's South African operations.

The chamber said gold producers would go to court as they believed the strike was illegal, and would seek damages from the union.

Russell said a “peace clause” in an agreement signed last year prevented Amcu from striking.

The two-tier wage agreement was concluded on September 10 with three of the four unions in the sector - the National Union of Mineworkers, Uasa and Solidarity.

The three unions represented 72 percent of workers in the gold sector, while Amcu represented 17 percent of workers at the time of the negotiations. While Amcu participated in the central level negotiations, it refused to accept the agreement.

“The September 2013 agreement was made applicable to all employees who form part of the bargaining unit, irrespective of trade union affiliation. These wages were backdated to July 1, 2013,” Russell said in a statement on Monday.

Amcu members had benefited from the outcome of the wage talks since then.

“In terms of the 'peace clause' contained in the agreement, there can be no strike action about terms and conditions of employment during the existence of the agreement,” she said.

“The issue of conditions of employment has been settled for the duration of the agreement, and no demands may be made during the course of the agreement.”

She said any strike relating to terms and conditions of employment would be in contravention of the peace clause, and illegal.

“The Chamber of Mines will request that the court rule that the union should be held responsible for any and all damages suffered as a result of strike action,” she said. - Sapa

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