Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) embarked on a protected industrial action in Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province 4 May 2017.

Our members at the copper mining company PMC have been on a protected strike since Wednesday 03 May 2017 over a wage dispute after declaring deadlock with the employer on 18 March 2017.

The wage negotiation process is in its third month and Limpopo regional organizer and chief negotiator Moses Mcai explained that the list of demands had to be cut down for the sake of reaching an amicable agreement with the employer.

As the majority union, AMCU is adamant on the current demand increase of 12%. “We decided to negotiate on a living wage, housing and transport allowances and a location allowance which is an encapsulation of the heat allowance, underground allowance and CONOPS (continued operation) allowance,” he said.

In addition, Mcai explained the need for this increase, highlighting that the current allowances are not sufficient and are as follows:

Location: R600

Housing: R800

Transport: R1000 (after hours)

Mcai explained how the wage bargaining had been segmented between 5 different wage categories and their respective entry level rates:

B1 -R13222

B2 -R14426

B3 -R15880

B4 -R17373

B5 -R19206

Company’s offer:

PMC offered our members a proposition of a three year agreement, with an 8% wage increase in the first year and 7% for the following two years.

The company also offered to increase the shift, line up and standby allowance as well as the bond, subsidy and overtime allowances.

As per our mandate driven policy, Mcai was mandated by members to reject the offer from the company and increase their basic salary offer if the company offers low allowances.

Branch Secretary Philly Ntivana said Workers are striking because they want better living wages.

“What the company has offered the members is what they were offered the previous year, that is not bettering our members livelihoods in anyway,” he said

He added that a reasonable increment would mean that the members can take care of themselves and their families. The current impasse could not be resolved and as a result the matter was referred to the CCMA.

The CCMA process failed to find a resolution for both parties and as a result AMCU was issued with a strike certificate.

On Friday 5 May 2017, AMCU members were still picketing outside the main entrance of the mine. The Chief negotiator and other Limpopo Regional Leaders met with the company’s representatives in hopes of reaching an amicable solution.

The meeting continued the following day on Saturday 6 May.

On Monday 8 May 2017, members gathered for a mass meeting to receive feedback from negotiators on meetings with the company and their proposed wage offers. Following the mass meeting, leaders in the region were mandated to reject the offer yet again and continue the strike action.