NUM has backed down on its 25 percent wage demand at Royal Bafokeng Platinum three months into the wage talks. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has backed down on its 25 percent wage demand at Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) three months into the wage talks, Geoffrey Moatshe, the NUM Rustenburg regional chairperson, said on Friday. 

He said that the union was prepared to settle for a 10 percent rise, after initially requesting a 25 percent increase in wages across the board.

Moatshe said that the company had offered to pen a five-year agreement with increases of between 6 and 7 percent in the five years, instead of the union's proposed three-year agreement. “We met with management this week and will be relegating the issues to a smaller group of negotiators. We are trying to reach a middle ground,” said Moatshe.

RBPlat has offered to increase salaries by R950 a month in the first year, R1 000 in the second and third years, R1 100 in the fourth year and R1 150 in the fifth year. Close to 60percent of RBPlat’s costs is people.

The union has demanded that the company hike the housing allowance to R12 500 a month.

The company offered living out allowances of 0 to 5.5 percent over the five-year period.

“The housing increase translates to a R90-a-month increase for low earners. We said no. They said if we can pass the housing issue we can have a deal. We want equal pay for equal jobs. We have said let us address the pay anomalies,” he said.

The NUM has a closed shop with RBPlat and is the majority union with 6 000 members.

“We are told of the weak platinum price when we have had a stable business for years. We are mindful of the platinum price. It cannot be that we are told of the platinum price when we have had a stable business,” he said.

JSE-listed RBPlat said in August that its losses had widened to 70.8 cents a share, up from 12.4c a share from the corresponding period last year, when the platinum industry was raking in bumper profits from the record rhodium and palladium prices. The company was not immediately available for comment.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the majority union in the platinum sector adjusted demands, among others, included a basic salary increase of R1 500 a 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.

Amcu has demanded R17 000 for entry-level workers.