File picture: Reuters/ Luc Gnago

Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Wednesday slammed the three-year wage offer tabled by South African gold producers as as a "pittance" and "insulting" to workers.

South African gold mining companies on Wednesday tabled their three-year wage proposals, ranging from 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent for underground employees, and between three and 4.5 percent for miners, artisans and officials.

Workers are demanding a salary of R9 500 for above the surface employees and between R10 500 and R12 500 for entry level underground staff over and above a housing allowance of R5 000. 

NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said the union was still demanding R9 500 for the surface workers, R10 500 for the underground, and 15 percent for the artisans, miners, and officials. 

"They had offered annual wage increases of up to R550 to miners and up to 4.5 percent for artisans, miners, and officials. These wage offers are not even close to what our members are demanding. The gold producers have been very arrogant in their approach to this wage negotiations to the extent that their offer on the table smacks of insults and arrogance," Mammburu  said.

"We will take this pittance or insulting wage offer back to our members for them to make a final decision. All the stakeholders will reconvene next week Wednesday and the unions will report back to the plenary the mandate from the members."

Wage negotiations between four of the biggest gold producers and workers unions entered a second day on Wednesday at a centralised collective bargaining forum. 

The companies; AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater and Village Main Reef; directly employ around 80 000 people collectively.

The companies tabled different offers given that they find themselves in different circumstances. In total, there were at least 137 demands tabled, 62 of which have cost implications for the companies, and many of them significant.

The Minerals Council South Africa, formerly the Chamber of Mines, earlier said that the mining industry was facing major challenges despite the gold sector remaining a significant contributor to the South African economy.

The parties will meet again later this month on July 25, at which time the unions may seek clarity on the offers made, and respond to the offers.

African News Agency (ANA)