Johannesburg - The Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (Amcu’s) decision to hold out on the wage offer by gold mining houses was likely to result in inter-union violence if Amcu’s disruptive history in strikes was anything to go by, Peter Attard Montalto, a strategist at Nomura International, said yesterday.
Amcu members rejected the final two-year wage offer by gold employers for salary increases of 7.5 percent to 8 percent at a mass meeting in Carletonville on Sunday.
The rejection came as 60 000 members of the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) agreed to the final offer on Friday, bringing an end to the three-day strike led by NUM that started on Tuesday.
On Sunday, Amcu members mandated the union to continue talks with the Chamber of Mines on their demands for a R12 500 minimum salary and decided to go on strike if their wage demands were not met.
“We will not be touching this new offer,” Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said yesterday. “If we do, the workers will revolt”.
He said the union had no immediate plans to strike.
Amcu was unlikely to give up on talks before the end of the month, he said.
Three of the four recognised unions in the gold mining sector have accepted the offer.
Solidarity said its members had agreed to the employers’ offer yesterday. Uasa accepted the offer a fortnight ago.
Montalto said the implications were fascinating given the prospect of Amcu achieving higher increases than NUM. This would enable the younger union to boost its influence in the gold sector, where its membership had so far lagged compared with its grip on platinum mines.
“They are potentially more disruptive than NUM in how they take strike action and I think the chances of inter-union violence is probably also marginally higher too.”
Montalto stressed that this was the first time this sort of direct competition between two unions would have been seen.
“I think its important that the market does not overinterpret the surprisingly fast NUM settlement as indicative that [disruptions] are over either for the gold sector or indeed for the economy as a whole.
“We are still only really halfway through the wage round,” he said.
David Davids of SBG Securities said that Amcu’s ultimate goal was to negotiate wages mine by mine.
Amcu, which represents 19 percent of the 107 000 employees in the gold sector, will pursue talks with the Chamber of Mines. - Business Report