Johannesburg - A potential pay strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) would not be protected because most miners had already agreed to a deal, the Chamber of Mines, which represents the seven biggest local gold producers, said yesterday.
An unprotected strike would leave workers vulnerable to possible dismissal.
“We’ve signed this agreement with the three unions, the majority unions,” Elize Strydom, the chief negotiator for the chamber, said yesterday. “There will be no further negotiations about wages.”
Amcu, the industry’s second-biggest union, snubbed an offer from employers to raise wages by 8 percent, saying it would pursue further talks. It has called for a wage increase to R12 500 a month for entry-level workers.
The deal agreed to by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Uasa and Solidarity after last week’s strike will cost the chamber’s seven gold companies R1.5 billion for a year. “There’s a lot of issues in the wage agreement where we can work together,” Strydom said.
NUM’s members make up 63 percent of gold workers, while Amcu represents 19 percent.
While Amcu has said it received member support for a walkout at a meeting on Sunday, the union has not declared its intention to strike, favouring negotiations instead.
The chamber was confident it could have a stoppage declared unauthorised, Strydom said, adding the employers’ body would meet Amcu representatives tomorrow.
If Amcu members downed tools, “we could go to court and interdict that strike. We will argue that it is an unprotected strike in the sense that the law allows us to apply this agreement to all employees in the bargaining unit,” she said.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa and treasurer Jimmy Gama did not answer phone calls seeking comment.
Sibanye Gold’s share price rose to a three-month high of R11.70 just after midday yesterday, its highest intraday level since June 11. It closed 2.68 percent higher at R11.50.
The company said yesterday that it had concluded a two-year wage agreement with three of the unions at its operations but not with Amcu, which is the biggest representative of its employees at its largest operation, Driefontein.
Gold One International also said yesterday that it had signed a two-year wage agreement with NUM and Uasa for its West Rand operations. Gold One shares fell 0.93 percent to close trade at R2.13.
The JSE gold mining index fell 1.54 percent. – Bloomberg