SUMMARY: The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has concluded a landmark wage agreement with Siyanda-Bakgatla Platinum. The Union is pleased with the increased wages and benefits it managed to negotiate for its members, and views this as a good start of the imminent round of platinum wage negotiations to follow this year.
AMCU, which is the majority trade union at Siyanda-Bakgatla Platinum’s operations in Northam in Limpopo, has concluded a five-year wage agreement. The agreement, which is effective from 1 March 2022 will last until 28 February 2027.
“We are satisfied with the deal we managed to negotiate here”, said AMCU Treasurer-General Jimmy Gama, who was the chief negotiator on behalf of the Union. “As AMCU, we believe that this agreement is progressive in the sense that it will provide labour stability and peace for a long period of five years”, said Gama.
The agreement reached sees increases for lower job grades ranging from a monthly increase of at least R1 100 per month for year 1 up to an increase R1 500 per month in year 5 (2027). Higher job grades will receive increases starting from 5,5% for year 1 up to 7% in year 5 of the agreement.
“Of great importance is the drive to push employees from the current living out allowance to a homeownership allowance where no employee will earn less than R4000 a month”, said Gama. “We have general consensus that the living out allowance is a legacy from apartheid and the migrant labour system, and we need to move on to promoting home ownership as part of our socioeconomic agenda”, Gama explained.
There are also substantial increases in other allowances and benefits, as well as commitments to conclude the job grading process and to start the process of transferring employees to the AMCU-managed provident fund, Igula.
“We, as AMCU leadership, are particularly pleased with the fact that we could negotiate that the severance pay of employees who might be retrenched during the term of this agreement, will be calculated at the wages earned in year five”, said Gama. “Simply said, this means that a worker who is retrenched in for example 2022, will get a retrenchment package based on his or her wages as it would have been in 2027”, he explained.
AMCU is in the process of gathering mandates from members at the different branches of platinum mines, in preparation for the 2022 round of Platinum Wage Negotiation which are imminent. AMCU usually gathers initial demands and then convenes a Platinum Bargaining Conference in order to receive presentations from economists and consolidate demands before engaging in the wage talks.
“If this agreement [with Siyanda-Bakgatla] is anything to go by”, said Gama, “we are very optimistic as to the outlook for the upcoming platinum negotiations”. “This agreement sees the lowest paid employee reaching a take-home salary of R16 352 per month – which is almost at AMCU’s demand of R17 000 as a basic living wage”, Gama said “AMCU will make the difference”, he quoted from AMCU’s motto.
AMCU had previously adjusted its trademark R12 500 demand for a living wage, which was originally tabled in 2012, to R17 000 – allowing for inflationary factors.
“We are positive that the recent good performance of platinum and the profits that the big mining houses made in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, will lead to some of the proceeds being shared with the workers as well”, Gama concluded.
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For interviews: Treasurer-General Jimmy Gama