S.Africa's Solidarity union seeks at least 10 pct wage hikes in gold sector

JOHANNESBURG, May 11 (Reuters) – South Africa trade union Solidarity has submitted wage hike demands in the gold sector of at least 10 percent annually over the next three years, according to a document submitted to the Chamber of Mines seen by Reuters.

Solidarity only represents about 2 percent of the workforce in South Africa's gold mines but its members are skilled artisans and supervisors who are crucial to operations.

The document says Solidarity is seeking increases of CPI inflation plus 4 percent, or 10 percent, "whichever is greater." CPI is currently running at 3.8 percent.

The document also said a three-year deal was only achievable if: "the offer for the 3rd year is more favourable than year 1 and 2, and a guarantee of job security is built into the offer."

The biggest union in the sector, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), has submitted wage hike demands in the gold sector of up to 37 percent over a two year period.

The chamber negotiates in the gold sector on behalf of Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater, AngloGold Ashanti, and a smaller producer, with formal talks expected to commence in June.

Wages account for around half of the costs in South Africa's gold mining industry and companies have in the past said the cycle of double-digit, above-inflation pay hikes cannot be sustained, unless prices rise considerably.

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Toby Chopra)