AMCU Union Says S. Africa Gold-Wage Dispute to Be Kept Separate

South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union wants its grievances about gold-industry wages to be kept separate from those of other labor organizations amid stalled wage talks with producers.

The AMCU declined on July 24 to join the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and UASA in officially declaring a dispute with employers including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration will seek to bring the AMCU into the labor union grouping, the Chamber of Mines, representing producers, said yesterday. That would make it easier to resolve the dispute between the two sides.

“The chamber’s effort to join the disputes is to squash AMCU, it is to bring AMCU in the room and close it,” AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said in an interview in Johannesburg today. “We will maintain that we keep it separate.”

Wage demands by labor in South Africa are the highest on record even as a 23 percent slump in gold this year prompts producers to review the profitability of their operations.

The AMCU, representing about 17 percent of workers at the seven gold companies participating in talks through the chamber, has asked for basic wages for underground workers to be more than doubled. The NUM, with 64 percent of membership, asked for increases of as much as 60 percent. The NUM and other unions declared a dispute after employers raised their pay offer by 1 percentage point.

Talks will continue Aug. 6, according to the chamber.

The AMCU, which represents the most workers at Lonmin Plc, has made progress with the world’s third-biggest producer of the metal on a recognition agreement and may reach a pact before the parties next meet at the CCMA, union Treasurer Jimmy Gama said today.

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