Sup­pli­ers panic over pos­si­ble gold sec­tor strike

Finweek English Edition - - IN THE NEWS - BY ANDILE NTINGI

Head of Amcu

Hav­ing un­leashed a five-month strike last year that brought the plat­inum min­ing sec­tor to its knees, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Minework­ers and Con­struc­tion Union (Amcu) could wreak in­dus­trial ac­tion may­hem, this time on the gold sec­tor, if its wage de­mands are not met.

This loom­ing sce­nario has trig­gered ex­treme worry among sup­pli­ers to the gold sec­tor. If there’s a break­down in the on­go­ing wage talks be­tween unions and gold min­ing com­pa­nies, a strike in the sec­tor could mean a se­vere fi­nan­cial blow for these com­pa­nies, which spend bil­lions ev­ery year on procur­ing goods and ser­vices from sup­pli­ers. Ev­ery min­ing job also sup­ports another job in its re­lated in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to Cham­ber of Mines data.

Amcu, which is led by the charis­matic Joseph Mathun­jwa, has gained a strong foothold in the gold sec­tor be­hind its arch-ri­val, the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (Num). Ac­cord­ing to the Cham­ber of Mines, Amcu cur­rently rep­re­sents 30% of work­ers in the gold sec­tor and Num 52%. Amcu is re­quest­ing a R12 500 min­i­mum monthly wage for its mem­bers, rep­re­sent­ing a 100% pay hike for en­try-level work­ers. Num de­manded an 80% in­crease.

The gold min­ers were to ta­ble their fi­nal of­fer on 30 July. How­ever, the two par­ties were not see­ing eye to eye, with the latest in­creases of­fered by the cham­ber’s mem­bers rang­ing be­tween 7.8% and 13%.

El­ize Stry­dom, the cham­ber’s se­nior ex­ec­u­tive for em­ploy­ment re­la­tions, con­cedes that a pro­tracted strike could have a “greater” im­pact on the gold sec­tor’s sup­ply chain.

“The cham­ber’s mes­sage is that all of­fers should be tested ac­cord­ing to a fi­nan­cial model to en­sure that the of­fers do not un­der­mine the sus­tain­abil­ity of the in­dus­try and that jobs are re­tained.

“We do not want to give wage in­creases that un­der­mine the sus­tain­abil­ity of the in­dus­try and – ul­ti­mately – job se­cu­rity,” ex­plains Stry­dom.

DE­PEN­DENCY ON THE GOLD SEC­TOR

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