ANGGOLD:  20,707   -644 (-3.02%)  23/02/2019 00:00

South African unions declare dispute over wage talks with gold firms

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Three South African unions said on Wednesday that wage negotiations in the gold sector had hit a deadlock and they had declared a dispute, a move that is one step short of a strike.

Solidarity, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and UASA said their wage talks with Harmony Gold and smaller producer Village Main Reef had hit a dead end, but they were still negotiating with AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye-Stillwater.

Gold producers have argued that above-inflation wage hikes have been adding to the cost burden in the bullion industry, which has been hit by depressed prices and labour unrest.

When unions declare a dispute, they usually have to go through conciliation talks with the companies concerned mediated by an authority such as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

If the talks fail to break the impasse, a protected strike could potentially go ahead.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which is also involved in negotiations with gold producers, last week declared a dispute with Minerals Council, which is representing gold producers in the wage talks.

NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said the union was waiting for a date to be set to continue the talks under the CCMA.

The Minerals Council chief negotiator Motsamai Motlhamme said it was critical that any wage agreement reached "does not compromise the viability of an industry already in distress."

The four companies involved in the negotiations earlier this month each presented different offers of up to 7.2 percent to underground employees and up to 4.5 percent for miners and artisans. Inflation stood at 5.1 in July. (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg Editing by James Macharia)

2018-08-29 19:11:07

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