Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: SOWETAN
Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: SOWETAN

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) will demand a R12,500 monthly minimum wage from some of SA’s top gold producers in upcoming wage negotiations.

The union decided on its demands on Sunday at a mass meeting near Carletonville.

Amcu is the second-largest union at AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye-Stillwater and Harmony Gold Mining, according to Minerals Council SA, a lobby group representing the industry.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said after the meeting that R12,500 a month “can put the worker in a better place, especially considering higher taxes and petrol prices”.

He said that what workers were paid “isn’t fair”.

Amcu is also calling for an increase in benefits, including severance pay and transport allowances, and longer maternity leave. It also wants a five-day work week to replace the shift system. Mathunjwa cautioned that the union could change its demands at any time.

SA’s gold mines are among the world’s deepest, oldest and most labour-intensive, which means that producers face constant pressure to reduce costs, while a 27% national unemployment rate makes job cuts politically difficult.

The Minerals Council SA had received Amcu’s demands, spokeswoman Charmane Russell said. “No date has yet been set for the start of negotiations, but that is imminent,” she said.

The union’s demands would mean a substantial increase to the companies’ wage bill, including Harmony, which in 2015 reached an agreement that increased the monthly minimum wage to R7,662 in 2017.

In April, the National Union of Mineworkers submitted a list of demands for a two-year agreement, with entry-level pay of R10,500 a month.