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South African unions not impressed with offer; no deal reached

Wage negotiations in South Africa’s gold mining sector have taken a turn for the worse after the murder of a union representative on Sunday and failed talks on Tuesday.

Worker representatives rejected an offer by the Chamber of Mines to raise wages by 5.5% – at par with inflation rates. This represents a 0.5% increase from their previous offer, 1.5% on the initial offer but far below union demands.

Represented by several competing unions, the country’s gold miners were looking for a raise of up to 60%.

Negotiating companies include AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Rand Uranium, Harmony Gold, Evander Gold, Sibanye Gold and Village Main Reef.

“Given the current state of the financial health of the industry, this move towards an inflation-related increase in basic wages and living-out allowance is a bold step,” the mining firms said in a statement.

Based on a deadline set by the country’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, a settlement must be reached by August 24.

Meanwhile, relations between unions are again on shaky ground after a NUM shop steward was gunned down on Sunday at Lonmin’s Marikana mine – the same place where police killed 34 workers last year. Some say this is an indication of an ongoing turf war between NUM and AMCU.

AMCU has invited its rival to a commemoration for those killed at Marikana – an invitation which NUM was apparently waiting for: