Gold mining: AMCU sticks to demand of 100% wage increase, ready for strike

By Paul Burkhardt

(Bloomberg) — The second-biggest union for South Africa’s gold-mining industry, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, is ready to strike for higher wages, the group’s leader said Sunday.

“Today all the members of AMCU have agreed overwhelmingly that we are prepared to go on a protected strike in pursuit of the living wage” at AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Harmony Gold Mining Co Ltd. and Sibanye Gold Ltd., President Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters after a rally near Johannesburg. He said that the timing of any action hadn’t been decided. “You need to prepare for a strike.”

AMCU leader Joseph Mathunjwa
AMCU leader Joseph Mathunjwa

Thousands of members at the stadium voted in favor of the labor action by a show of hands. Sibanye is willing to continue negotiations with the union, which is one of four representing workers in the nation’s mining industry, Mathunjwa said.

The National Union of Mineworkers, UASA and Solidarity signed a three-year agreement Oct. 2 with AngloGold and Harmony. The AMCU refused to sign. Sibanye, the top producer of South African bullion, has required all four unions to sign the wage agreement for it to take effect.

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The AMCU, which led the longest strike in South Africa’s mining history at platinum producers last year, has demanded wages of 12,500 rand ($936) a month for entry-level workers. That would be more than double current pay.

Gold producers have limited their offers, citing escalating production costs and declining prices that are hurting profits. South Africa’s inflation rate was 4.6 percent in August.

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