NEWS & ANALYSIS

Mining houses present gloomy picture during negotiations – Solidarity

Union disappointed that Minerals Council rejected most of the trade unions’ demands

Mining houses present a gloomy picture during second round of negotiations – Solidarity 

Gold sector negotiations resumed today and during this round mining houses gave presentations on the state of affairs at the various companies.

According to Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis, the Minerals Council gave a detailed response with regard to Solidarity’s demands. “The trade unions, however, rejected the Council’s opening offers,” Du Plessis said.

Du Plessis also says Solidarity is disappointed that the Minerals Council rejected most of the trade unions’ 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,” Du Plessis added.

During today’s negotiations high salary costs and low productivity were once again stressed. According to Du Plessis the salaries of head office employees and senior staff are included in the staff costs, and to single out miners’ wage demands as main reason for huge salary bills is therefore false. “It was said that senior staff at Sibanye, for example, received a salary increase of only 3,5% but this increase should be converted to its rand value and then be compared to workers’ salary increases in rand value to get the full picture,” Du Plessis said.

Du Plessis added that it was also astonishing that low productivity was highlighted as a problem when production is a responsibility of management. Therefore, it actually amounts to poor management if production targets are not met.

Furthermore, the increase in mining deaths also played a role in lower production due to mine closures, and Sibanye-Stillwater in particular should search their own conscience and first resolve their own safety issues in order to alleviate its impact on production. “It is also important to learn from companies such as Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef on how they managed to immediately achieve higher production in the loss-making mines that they took over from AngloGold Ashanti,” Du Plessis said.

Solidarity rejected the 3% wage offer at Sibanye-Stillwater; the 4,5% at Harmony, AngloGold and Ashanti; as well as the offer of 3,5% at Village Main for skilled workers.

The third round of negotiations is scheduled for 25 July when trade unions will formally respond to the council’s feedback.

Statement issued by Gideon du Plessis, General Secretary, Solidarity, 18 July 2018