South Africa’s Biggest Gold Union Said to Seek 80% Pay Rise

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South Africa’s biggest gold-mining labor union demanded a pay increase of more than 80 percent for entry-level underground workers, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

The National Union of Mineworkers wants basic pay for the lowest wage band to rise to 10,500 rand ($866) a month, the people said, asking not to be identified because the demands haven’t been made public. The NUM also wants all other gold employees to get a salary increase of at least 15 percent and an accommodation allowance of at least 3,500 rand a month, they said.

The union’s wage request far outstrips South Africa’s annual rate of inflation, which was 4 percent in March. The country’s gold-pay negotiations are due to start in June. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which last year led a five-month strike in South Africa’s platinum industry, will announce its demands for gold miners on Wednesday.

The Chamber of Mines has received the NUM’s request, according to Elize Strydom, chief negotiator at the organization that represents gold producers and conducts the talks.

“We are not in a position to discuss the detail of these demands because the chamber and unions will only engage each other at a formal plenary,” she said Tuesday by e-mail.

Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for the chamber at Russell & Associates, declined to comment until negotiations begin.

Companies affected by the talks include AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Sibanye Gold Ltd. and Harmony Gold Mining Co. The NUM represents about 54 percent of the 94,000 employees at the three companies, which currently pay 5,790 rand a month to entry-level workers, according to the chamber.

South Africa is the world’s sixth-biggest gold producer.

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