Johannesburg - While the timbre of strike resolution remained strong yesterday in the gold mining and automotive sectors, there were many indicators that workers were losing the appetite for protracted protests.
Gold stocks warmed up to the news of rejuvenated offers. Major producers including Gold Fields rose 3.8 percent to R54.50, AngloGold Ashanti was up 6.3 percent to R143.82 and Harmony Gold rose 5.68 percent to R41.50 as confidence of a settlement abounded.
The two major producers, AngloGold and the South Deep Mine, owned by Gold Fields, have tabled an 8 percent increase for category four and five employees including rock drill operators, which the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) indicated could be considered. They have offered the remaining categories a 7.5 percent increase and a 1 percent increase in the living-out allowance.
“The market is warming up to the fact that NUM has come down on demands at Village and Pan African and, under the circumstances, are going in the same direction at the other mines,” said David Davis, a gold analyst at SBG Securities.
However, NUM national spokesman Lesiba Seshoka did not sound as confident that workers would be responsive to the 7 percent raise linked to a gain share scheme which was tabled by marginal miners Sibanye Gold, Harmony Gold and Rand Uranium. The companies have offered 6.5 percent with a 1 percent gain share for the remaining categories.
According to the Chamber of Mines, AngloGold’s Mponeng, Savuka and Tau Tona mines operated normally yesterday as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) had not indicated its intention to strike. Rand Uranium’s Driefontein mine and Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu were unaffected.
Davis was sceptical about whether Amcu would embark on a strike if members rejected the offer. Amcu treasurer Jimmy Gama said the strike committee was expecting a mandate from employees on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) had report back meetings at various motor manufacturing plants yesterday but has apparently not yet convinced all members to accept the final offer made by the Automobile Manufacturing Employers Organisation (Ameo). It is believed four of the seven plants have accepted the offer but attempts to obtain comment from Numsa were unsuccessful.
Thapelo Molapo, Ameo’s chairman and chief negotiator, confirmed Numsa had been at the plants yesterday and had provided its members with feedback about the dispute and the details of the offer, but the strike was continuing.
Guy Kilfoil, a spokesman for BMW SA, confirmed workers at the plant had yesterday rejected the Ameo offer. He added that any future production expansion plans for its Rosslyn plant beyond what it was producing was “on hold because of the labour unrest”.
The other plants that have rejected the offer are believed to be Toyota and Volkswagen.
The SA Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec) yesterday reported there was a decline in the number of workers on strike and they were slowly returning to work. This follows construction sector minority union, the Building, Construction and Allied Workers Union (Bcawu), reaching a three-year agreement with Safcec on Tuesday. Annemie Cowley, a Safcec spokeswoman, said discussions were continuing. Safcec asked the NUM to reconsider its wage offer after employers reached a settlement with Bcawu.
Telkom and Solidarity remain in dispute over wage increases, a month after the fixed-line telecommunications provider concluded salary agreements with two other unions at the company.
Marius Croucamp, a spokes-man for Solidarity, said yesterday that Telkom had not responded to a letter from the union on Monday requesting to re-enter negotiations after a dispute was declared.
The union rejected Telkom’s final offer of a 6 percent increase to certain employees over the next three years, while others in a higher band would receive a once-off amount and no increase in salary.
The Communication Workers Union and the SA Communications Union accepted the offer. Solidarity said the offer amounted to a wage freeze for some members.
“The agreement was implemented in spite of Solidarity’s dispute. Telkom has been requested in writing to carry on negotiations with the trade union,” he said, adding that new disparities surfaced during implementation of the wage structure.
Croucamp said some employees were enraged after learning this week of the multimillion-rand payouts of some Telkom executives by year-end while it pleaded poverty during the negotiations this year.
SAA broke off negotiations with the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), which has called a strike over pay demands, on Wednesday until it promises to control unruly members. Tlali Tlali, SAA’s corporate affairs executive, said by noon yesterday no promise had been made and no communication with the union was in progress.
He said the strike had had little effect, causing slight delays to some flights taking off from OR Tambo International airport.
Police were called in on Wednesday and some strikers, who barricaded an entrance to offices with burning tyres, were arrested. - Business Report