Less than half of the workers at AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Sibanye Gold Ltd., the biggest producers of the metal in South Africa, now belong to the dominant National Union of Mineworkers, according to the country’s mining lobby.
The NUM represents 47 percent of staff at AngloGold’s South African operations, with the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union accounting for 35 percent, the Chamber of Mines said Wednesday by e-mail. At Sibanye, 44 percent of workers were affiliated with the NUM and 38 percent with the AMCU by June 25.
While the NUM remains the majority union in South Africa’s gold industry with 52 percent of employees, the AMCU has risen to challenge it, benefiting the competing labor group in wage talks that began last month. Gold companies will talk with both unions even though collective-bargaining laws allow a deal with the majority union to be applied to all employees.
The NUM represents two-thirds of staff at Harmony Gold Mining Co. and the AMCU 15 percent, the mining lobby said. An audit of 6,510 previously unprocessed union application forms submitted by the AMCU found 95 percent were invalid because of duplication or being for former employees, the chamber said.
“There was an agreement that AMCU and the companies will meet next week with independent oversight” to review the audit, Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for the chamber, told reporters Wednesday.
Both unions rejected an offer by companies to raise annual pay as much as 13 percent, give staff a share of earnings and improve job security. The inflation rate was 4.6 percent in May.
The AMCU, led by former NUM member Joseph Mathunjwa, became the majority union in the platinum industry after 44 people died in violence in 2012. The union led a five-month strike last year, the country’s longest.