Labour unions at Harmony have signed a three-year wage deal with the gold producer.
- Harmony has reached a three-year wage agreement, that will increase wages of the lowest-paid workers from R10 478 to R13 478 by the third year of the deal.
- NUMSA hailed the deal as “groundbreaking” and a “significant milestone”.
- Solidarity says it will not shift its focus to Sibanye-Stillwater, which is says has so far pleaded poverty.
Harmony Gold has reached a three-year wage agreement with workers, a first for the company negotiated outside the Mineral Council’s central bargaining forum.
The deal was concluded between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), United Association of South Africa (UASA), Solidarity and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).
The deal was reached following three months of negotiations with the gold producer.
Category 4 to 8 employees will receive a wage increase of R1 000 for each year of the wage agreement, an amount which equates to an average raise of 8.4%. Miners, artisans and officials will receive a wage increase of 6% of their basic wage for each year of the agreement.
The total average wage increase negotiated is 7.8% in the first year, and the amount will decline to 7.4% in the second year, followed by 7% in the final year. Up to 98% of Harmony employees are part of the bargaining unit covered by the wage agreement.
The deal also includes a home ownership allowance ranging from R2 750 to R3 240 during the duration of the agreement, as well as a living-out allowance for those who don’t qualify for a housing bond.
Numsa hailed the deal as “groundbreaking” and a “significant milestone” – saying it will push the wages of the lowest paid workers at Harmony from an average of R10 478 to R13 478 by the third year of the agreement.
“We are telling employers in the commodity sector that are currently experiencing a boom period, that we are not going to allow workers to continue to be exploited and it is time that workers receive a living wage,” said Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim.
The NUM noted that mineworkers at Marikana in 2012 were demanding a R12 500 wage during a strike that led to a massacre.
Harmony CEO Peter Steenkamp said the agreement was a reflection of a “strong partnership between Harmony and organised labour”.
Solidarity said the focus would now shift to Sibanye-Stillwater gold sector negotiations, which are poised to deadlock as the company pleads poverty.
Solidarity’s general secretary Gideon du Plessis said Sibanye’s current offer to miners stands at 2.6% and a R300 increase for Category 4 to 8 employees.
“Sibanye’s offer is well below the agreement reached at Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine, ranging between 6% and 8%, and it is also lower than the Harmony settlement reached today,” said Du Plessis.
He said the company had been pleading poverty at the negotiating table.
“At the moment Sibanye is spending more time preparing for a possible strike than trying to reach a settlement.”
Mining companies in the country have recorded massing returns in the current financial year, thanks to higher commodity prices seen in the current cycle. Some miners have revealed plans of investing in their current operations and exploring new technologies.
As a result, unions are likely to be more robust in their demands for wage increases in the middle of windfall profits.