Talks in gold sector continue: Frans Baleni (NUM) and Dr Elize Strydom (Chamber of Mines)
HILTON TARRANT: Let’s bring in Frans Baleni now. He’s general secretary at the National Union of Mineworkers. Frans, the three unions today declared a dispute in the gold mining sector. There have been wage negotiations under way for quite some time now. Why the declaration of a dispute? Is this specific to the gold industry, or might we see similar situations play our across the mining sector?
FRANS BALENI: Indeed we have declared a dispute today in the gold sector. As you will recall, in the coal we declared a dispute last week and the CCMA scheduled for 20th. We were very disappointed that the Chamber almost insisted on getting a deadlock because they were saying that responding to news and media reaction we might be declaring a deadlock in a way, and therefore they were reluctant to make further moves. So they left us no alternative but to declare a dispute. At this stage it's gold and coal. Platinum is still negotiating, as well as diamonds, so that will depend. We might have dispute or a resolution, it depends on the negotiations.
HILTON TARRANT: The person who I guess sits opposite him at the negotiating table, Dr Elize Strydom, industrial relations adviser and chief negotiator at the Chamber of Mines, joins us now. Dr Strydom, you have been negotiating on behalf of the Chamber of Mines. The facilitator now being appointed by the CCMA to try and bring these parties closer together, both in the coal sector and in the gold sector, following today’s announcement – how far apart are you?
ELIZE STRYDOM: We are quite far apart. I'm sure that Frans Baleni mentioned we made an offer today. We revised our wage offer to 5.5% for the lower income earners, and then 5% for the rest. That is for AngloGold Ashanti and for Gold Fields. Then Harmony and Rand Uranium made different wage offers – they offered 5.3% for the lower income earners, and then 4.8% for the rest. If you bear in mind that the unions have demanded between 12% and 14% wage increases, we are very far apart at this stage.
HILTON TARRANT: Dr Elize Strydom. David, it seems like we go through the same routine every year.
DAVID SHAPIRO: Twelve to fourteen really sounds at the extreme…
HILTON TARRANT: Five times inflation.
DAVID SHAPIRO: I'm not sure where the justification comes and it's really weakening our shares, really weakening our competitive edge in this market. I don’t know where this leads to, Hilton.
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