Solidarity has become the second workers union to reject the latest three-year wage offer tabled by South African gold producers. Picture: Lori Waselchuk/AP

Johannesburg - Solidarity has become the second workers union to reject the latest three-year wage offer tabled by South African gold producers even though it admitted that the mining companies have presented a gloomy picture of the industry.

Solidarity joins the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which slammed the wage offer as as a "pittance" and "insulting" to workers.

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

Solidarity's general-secretary Gideon du Plessis said that the Minerals Council gave a detailed response with regard to their demands but trade unions collectively rejected the council's opening offers and were disappointed that the council rejected most of their demands. 

"The council even rejected demands which do not have any financial implications such as Solidarity's demand pertaining to worker presentation at company boards, a principle which is in line with the draft mining charter," Du Plessis said.
 
"In keeping with the tradition of the past few decades mine houses involved in the gold sector negotiations presented a gloomy picture of the sector's poor performance and weak prospects in their respective presentations."

Gold producers' AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater and Village Main Reef; tabled their three-year wage proposals ranging from R550 salary increases, or 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent for underground employees, and between 3 and 4.5 percent for miners, artisans and officials.

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

Du Plessis said that it was astonishing that low productivity was highlighted as a problem when production was a responsibility of management, pointing that this amounted to poor management if production targets were not met.

Du Plessis said that the increase in mining deaths also played a role in lower production due to mine closures, singling out Sibanye-Stillwater. He said the mining company should search their own conscience and first resolve their safety issues in order to alleviate its impact on production.

The third round of negotiations is scheduled for Wednesday at a centralised collective bargaining forum when trade unions will formally respond to the council’s feedback.

African News Agency (ANA)