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S. African Union Demands 12,500 Rand for Underground Gold Miners

South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union requested increased wages and benefits for gold miners as the industry prepares for pay talks.

The AMCU demanded 11,500 rand ($1,154) a month for surface workers and 12,500 rand for underground miners, according to a copy of a letter to the Chamber of Mines, which represents producers. It didn’t specify whether that includes benefits such as bonuses. The basic wage of underground employees is currently about 10,261 rand including benefits, according to the chamber.

“Mine workers experience a declining standard of living and the dream of sharing in the wealth of the country remains a pipe dream,” AMCU General Secretary Jeff Mphahlele said in the letter. “The minerals of this country must now benefit the people as per our constitution.”

The AMCU is the biggest union in the nation’s gold industry after the National Union of Mineworkers. Demands for above-inflation wage gains put pressure on companies already facing falling gold prices and rising costs, as well as persistent rivalry among mining unions that has contributed to some of the worst labor violence in the country since the end of apartheid.

The entry-level monthly base wage for gold miners is 4,350 rand to 5,000 rand, according to the website of the Chamber of Mines, which is due to take part in pay talks in mid-July.

Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for the chamber, declined to comment today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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