South Africa Union Won’t Consider Gold Wage Offers Below 20%

South African gold producers will need to offer a pay increase of at least 20 percent to even be considered by the National Union of Mineworkers, the industry’s biggest labor group.

An initial offer of a 20 percent increase is “something we could take back to our members,” NUM General Secretary David Sipunzi said in an interview at the union’s offices in Johannesburg on Friday. “If they put less than that, it would be similar to having put nothing on the table.”

The NUM, which has asked for a basic wage increase of more than 80 percent to 10,500 rand ($860) a month for entry-level workers, started wage negotiations with companies including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Harmony Gold Mining Co. and Sibanye Gold Ltd. this week. The companies plan to table an offer on Monday, they said June 24.

Sipunzi also said the union was “not rejecting” a so-called social compact offered by the mining companies, they just don’t want it to be part of the negotiations. The gold producers say a social compact would include job numbers and living conditions as part of wage talks.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the second-biggest labor group in South Africa’s gold mining industry, has asked for entry-level basic pay to be more than doubled to 12,500 rand a month.

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