File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) yesterday tabled a 15percent monthly pay increase at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) as wage negotiation season kicked off this month.

NUM chief negotiator in the platinum belt William Mabapa said the union had demanded Amplats hike monthly wages by R1500, or 15percent, whichever was greater. “We think our demands are reasonable. Through the demands we are not giving our members false hope,” he said.

Mabapa added that the union was calling for platinum mines to change their approach towards accommodation benefits through combining the living-out allowance and housing allowance.

“We must have a single housing allowance across the board. Every mineworker should own a house. Currently, low-paid employees do not qualify for bank loans for their homes,” added Mabapa.

At Amplats, the union had asked that the combined living-out allowance and housing allowance be capped at R7000 a month. It also wants a 100percent medical aid allowance for main members and 50percent for dependants.

Mabapa said that NUM had this week tabled a 30percent hike for wages at the Modikwa mine in Burgersfort, Limpopo, a joint venture between Amplats and African Rainbow Minerals.

He added that the company should hike the living-out allowance and housing allowance by R6000 a month at Modikwa.

Mabapa said the union was on the verge of signing a three-year wage deal at the Siyanda Bakgatla Platinum mine.

The NUM demand comes as its nemesis, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the platinum belt’s biggest union, last week tabled a 48percent monthly increase to R17000 a month.

Amcu said it was abandoning its R12500 figure, which was eaten by inflation.

Labour expert John Brand said NUM was unlikely to get their demands. “I think that NUM will quite quickly drop down into the zone of potential agreement and be willing to settle in the 7percent region,” Brand said.

He believed it would be more difficult to predict what Amcu would do.

“This time around, I think it may parachute into the zone of potential agreement a little sooner, perhaps even without a strike.

"It's the majority union in the platinum sector, so it will not be easy for the companies to settle with the other unions and put the same pressure on Amcu as the companies did in gold,” said Brand.

Brand said workers would not be keen to strike, following Amcu’s bruising five-month strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations. “Amcu will be under pressure to settle sooner than in the past and at about 2 to 3percent above inflation,” said Brand.

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