Three of four unions in the gold industry signed a two-year wage agreement with gold producers on Tuesday, the Chamber of Mines said.
"The wage settlement was reached at levels that were more than employers would have preferred," said Chamber of Mines chief negotiator Elize Strydom.
"However, we took the view that the agreement has helped secure stability in the industry for a two-year period. Overall, the settlement represents a reasonably balanced outcome, in the best interests of shareholders, management and employees."
It was signed by Solidarity, United Association of South Africa and the National Union of Mineworkers, which represent about 72% of workers, but not by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which represents 19% of workers.
Gold producers' spokesperson Charmane Russell said they would continue to meet with Amcu to discuss the implementation of the wage agreement, as well as the detail and implications thereof for all employees and the role that Amcu could play in the implementation of the various clauses of the agreement.
She said it was within the law that an agreement signed by majority unions was passed on to minority unions and non-unionised workers.
Amcu treasurer Jimmy Gama said they union had a meeting with the Chamber of Mines on Friday.
"We will serve a strike notice if talks deadlock on Friday," he said.
Amcu members had rejected the 8% wage increase at their central mass meeting in Carletonville and voted to strike.
Amcu was demanding R12 500 for entry level workers but companies said they could not afford big pay rises.
The Chamber of Mines represents AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Rand Uranium, Harmony Gold, Evander Gold, Sibanye Gold, and Village Main Reef.
On Friday, the gold producers' final offer was conveyed to all unions and Uasa, Solidarity and NUM indicated they would accept.
In terms of the agreement, category four and five employees and rock drill operators would receive an 8% increase and other employees a 7.5% increase from July 1.
In July 2014, employees will receive a consumer price index-linked increase.
The current monthly living-out allowance of R1 640 would increase to R2 000 in two R180 steps, on September 1 2013, and again in 2014.
Medical incapacity benefit
Strydom said commitments were made and the parties agreed to appoint an expert to investigate and report on organisation in the gold mining industry.
They also made commitments to work together to develop joint solutions on issues related to garnishee orders and other aspects of employees' personal financial management.
The minimum medical incapacity benefit would increase from R30 000 to R40 000 over the two years.
On Monday, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold said striking workers had returned to work. – Sapa