South African wage demands spiral as platinum sector braces for unrest
20 May 2013
South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called
for wage hikes of up to 60 per cent, helping to send the rand to a
four-year low as investors brace for unrest in the industry.
The union's demands, which were submitted to the Chamber of
Mines, raised speculation that the sector could be headed for more
walkouts and strikes.
Although the NUM's submission was in respect of coal and gold
miners, platinum producers are likely to also face high demands
with current wage deals up for renegotiation this summer.
The NUM is facing fierce competition from the rival Association
of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which has poached
thousands of platinum miners in recent months.
An unprotected strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine last week was
the most recent case of inter-union rivalry, impacting platinum
production in the country.
Lonmin is in the process of de-recognising the NUM and signing a
recognition agreement with the AMCU, which now represents the bulk
of the company's workforce.
But the AMCU is yet to submit its demands to platinum producers,
which negotiate with unions on a company-by-company basis.
Number one producer Anglo American Platinum plans to shed 6,000
jobs as it scales back production in order to cut costs.
Although this is well short of the 14,000 originally estimated
by the firm, unions have said they are ready to take action if the
job losses go ahead.
South African wage demands send rand to four year low
de-recognises NUM (20/05/13)