File image: IOL

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said it will be meeting with the Chamber of Mines on Tuesday today to discuss wages in the coal mining sector. 

Numsa said it will be negotiating for higher wages at one of the world's largest natural resource commodities producer, Glencore Plc, where the union has a majority representation. 

Numsa wants a 15% wage increase across the board, which translates into a R1,020 increase for the lowest paid worker, a once-off R80,000 housing subsidy, and a 20 % increase in all allowances.

Last month, Numsa and other trade unions in the metals and engineering sector signed a three-year wage agreement with employers which was less than half of the 15% it demanded after four months of intensive negotiations.

In the mining industry, Numsa said mining houses had rejected its just demand for a living wage, claiming that the demands were unrealistic. 

Numsa acting spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi said that the South African mining industry had demonstrated that it was not concerned about the life of an African worker. 

"Every year since 2012, at least 73 people die underground as a result of mining accidents because mining bosses don't have the political will to improve safety conditions. Capitalists argue that they deserve to make millions because they put up the finances to fund the mining company, and yet they place no value on the life of an African worker," Hlubi said.

"As Numsa, we believe that our demands are fair given that mining houses in South Africa have made obscene profits in the last 23 years and they continue to do so, whilst the working and living conditions of workers have not improved at all to the same degree."

Hlubi said they wanted the Chamber of Mines and the industry at large to take these talks seriously. 

"They must prove that they value the lives of our members and their families," Hlubi said. 

"They have not begun to make up for the suffering they caused under Apartheid, therefore they have no choice, they have a duty to drastically improve living and working conditions of workers."