Coal mines ditch cen­tral wage talks

CityPress - - Business And Tenders & Auctions -

Unions this week re­ferred a dis­pute to the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion after coal mines de­cided to pull out of the bar­gain­ing fo­rum es­tab­lished in the 1940s, at the time for set­ting white work­ers’ wages.

Since 1983, how­ever, the cham­ber fo­rum has been used for all cat­e­gories of worker, but now com­pa­nies see lit­tle ben­e­fit in it.

Ac­cord­ing to Mot­samai Motl­hamme, head of em­ploy­ment re­la­tions at the cham­ber, only seven of the cham­ber’s 21 coal min­ing mem­bers be­long to the fo­rum.

It only sets wages for about 17 000 work­ers in the coal sec­tor, which em­ploys 78 000 peo­ple.

“Pro­gres­sively, over time, wage agree­ments in­creas­ingly re­flect dif­fer­ent set­tle­ment lev­els be­tween the coal com­pa­nies ... The com­pa­nies might as well have been ne­go­ti­at­ing at com­pany level,” he said via email.

Peter Bai­ley, health and safety chair­per­son of the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers, said that the fo­rum was still help­ing to equalise pay.

“The ben­e­fits are fairly uni­form, even if the salaries are not,” he said.

The fo­rum still puts ma­jor min­ing groups at the same ta­ble as a num­ber of small ones. “This is about the small ones ... We are afraid they will push set­tle­ments lower out­side the fo­rum,” he said.

– Dewald van Rensburg

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