South Africa - Johannesburg - 13 August 2019 - AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa briefing the media about its platinum sector wage negotiations and their readiness for the upcoming 7th Marikana Massacre commemoration, in Sandton Johannesburg. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG  - President of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), Joseph Mathunjwa, said on Tuesday that his union had moved from its R12,500 wage demand in the platinum sector and was now demanding R17,000 for entrance workers, to be achieved over three years.

Briefing the media on Tuesday in Sandton, Mathunjwa said that AMCU, as the majority union in the platinum sector, was making steady progress in wage negotiations with platinum miners such as Anglo Platinum (Amplats) and Impala Platinum (Implats).

Mathunjwa said that AMCU's latest adjusted demands, among others, included a basic salary increase of R1,500 per year for category A and B workers over a three-year agreement, and 10 percent for category C and D workers over the same period, including a housing allowance of R1,000.

"Following our platinum collective bargaining conference held on 4 June 2019 at the CSIR in Pretoria, we agreed to aim for a minimum salary of R17,000 for the lowest-earning worker. We also agreed to focus on benefits and some broader issues including mine health and safety," Mathunjwa said.

"We believe that these demands are realistic in the current environment and to address the socio-economic needs of mineworkers."

Amplats is currently offering a basic salary increase of R1,000 for year one, and R800 for years two and three, to be paid to job grade A and B workers, and 5.5 percent for each of the 3 years to workers in categories C and D.

Implats is offering a R800 salary increase per year for each of the three years proposed for categories A and B, and five percent increases for C categories, as well as an increase of R100 on living out allowances. 

Mathunjwa said they were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with regards to these offers from the two mining companies, but said the union was very disappointed at the offers being proposed by Sibanye-Stillwater.

"Sibanye-Stillwater is insisting to have parallel engagements for its operations at Rustenburg Platinum Mine (RPM), and the operations formerly belonging to Lonmin. As AMCU, we don’t agree with this approach," Mathunjwa said

Sibanye RPM is offering R700 as basic salary increases to category A and B workers for years one and two, and R800 for year three. They offer 4.3 percent for category C and D for each of the three years.

At Lonmin operations, Sibanye is offering R300 salary increases for year one, R350 for year two and R400 for year three.

Mathunjwa described this offer as a "slap in the face", saying that platinum group metals (PGM) prices have appreciated and Lonmin had swung into profit before being bought by Sibanye.

In May, Lonmin swung into an operating profit of US$70 million in the first six months of the 2019 financial year after a loss of US$32 million during the same period last year, driven by higher PGM prices and a weaker rand.

"We are utterly disappointed with the offering at Sibanye Lonmin. The current offer is seen as a slap in the face. It is an insult to workers, and we believe that Sibanye is trying to provoke us into strike," Mathunjwa said.

"Their offer for category C and D workers is also shockingly low, at a below-inflation rate of 3.3 percent. Not surprisingly, they were not prepared to look at any other improvements for benefits and conditions of employment.

"They make huge profits and pay themselves fat salaries and bonuses, while the poor workers must fight for the crumbs that fall from the table where they dine. As AMCU, we believe that these mines can truly afford to pay mineworkers a living wage and decent benefits."

- African News Agency (ANA)