Almost one year on from resolution of the longest strike action in South Africa’s history, and unrest is on the horizon again, this time for the gold mining sector.
Under South African labour laws, wage deals between the majority union and employers can be extended to smaller unions – a point that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is not happy with.
According to Reuters the AMCU’s president, Joseph Mathunjwa, said he will launch a wildcat strike should mining companies and the NUM impose a wage deal on its members.
The AMCU currently represents 29% of the gold sector’s workforce, compared with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) of which 54% of members are in the gold mining sector.
Reuters reported that one worker, Joseph Mpele, a 32-year-old underground miner for Sibanye Gold, said: “I’ve been saving money to sustain my family for months. I’m prepared and ready to stay away from work for even longer than my platinum comrades last year. What’s the point of going back to work when I’m not happy with my pay?”
While the NUM is demanding an 84% wage increase for its members, the AMCU is demanding a doubling of wages from gold companies AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye Gold, Harmony Gold and Pan African Resource's Evander Mines. With the previous two-year pay agreement expiring at the end of the month, wage negotiations in the gold mining sector are due to start on 22 June.