All eyes on the gold sector labour talks

South African gold producers and unions opened wage talks on Thursday, with labour groups set to table the largest-ever pay demands weeks after the precious metal’s steepest quarterly price slump on record.

Charmane Russell, a spokesperson for the Chamber of Mines, which represents the producers, said completing a protocol on how the process is conducted is the first item on the talks agenda. Unions are then due to explain their positions on pay and answer questions from employers, she said.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents more gold miners than any other, is asking for increases of as much as 60%.

Double pay
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is seeking to double the basic pay for underground workers. The wage requests are unprecedented, said Russell, and follow a 23% drop in gold prices in the first quarter.

“I’m confident that we’ll be able to reach a settlement that is acceptable to all parties,” Shabangu told reporters on Wednesday. “As a former trade unionist, it doesn’t mean that when you start with 60% you will end up with 60%. It never happens.”

AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third-biggest producer, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold Mining and Sibanye Gold are among companies that belong to the chamber. Union rivalry has fuelled wage demands, Eugene King, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a July 5 note to clients.

Acid Test
“Worsening economics have put extra pressure on the miners to achieve a better outcome for their shareholders, but for Amcu and NUM, this will be an acid test and hence both are demanding double-digit pay rises,” said King.

Amcu, representing about 17% of workers, is the biggest in the nation’s gold industry after the NUM, which speaks on behalf of 64% of gold miners, according to the chamber. The United Association of South Africa and Solidarity unions, representing workers in higher-skilled categories, have proposed wage increases of 18% and 14%, respectively. – Bloomberg

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Paul Burkhardt
Paul Burkhardt works from Johannesburg. Bloomberg reporter covering oil/gas, renewables, mining and unions in South Africa and sub-Saharan region. Retweets not endorsements. Paul Burkhardt has over 1431 followers on Twitter.

Related stories


Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

Mpumalanga premier fined for attending Mthembu funeral without a mask

Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane goes into isolation and pledges to buy 1000 masks to show her ‘remorse’

Searching for Chippo: How experts have been tracking the elusive...

There have long been sightings of hippos in the city’s leafy northern suburbs, says a specialist team

BMW X7: Is this the peak of our greed?

Even next to its luxury peers, the seven-seat behemoth is a little too much

Africa and the US under the Biden administration: A response...

A democratic administration is likely to revert to the US’s default position on global affairs, which doesn’t leave much for Africa to celebrate

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…