JOHANNESBURG, May 8 – South Africa’s National
Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has submitted wage hike demands in
the gold sector of up to 37 percent over a two year period,
according to a document submitted to the Chamber of Mines seen
The demands far exceed the current inflation rate of 3.8
percent and suggest potentially tough negotiations with
companies that have been battling to contain soaring costs in
the world’s deepest mines.
The document, dated April 23, says the NUM wants the basic
monthly pay for entry-level underground workers to rise to
10,500 rand ($83) over the next two years, which translates into
annual increases of between 15 and 18.5 percent, depending on
This is less than opening demands of up to 75 percent by the
NUM in previous negotiations, a sign that lower inflation and
food prices may be moderating expectations. The three-year
agreements reached in 2015 saw basic wage hikes of between 10
and 13 percent per year.
The total package a miner receives is higher than the basic
wage as it also includes housing and other allowances.
The chamber negotiates in the gold sector on behalf of
Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater, AngloGold
Ashanti, and a smaller producer.
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.
Unions say wages remain too low, a legacy of apartheid when
the black mining labour force was ruthlessly exploited. The NUM
has also said its average member typically has eight dependants,
straining their ability to provide for their households and
fueling their demands.
Negotiations should kick off in June and other unions still
have to submit their demands, but the NUM said it wanted the
talks to be complete by July 1, when the next agreements are
supposed to begin.