Suppliers panic over possible gold sector strike
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