South Africa union seeks US$148 pay rise from Northam


South Africa’s main mine workers union said it is demanding a 1 000 rand monthly pay rise from Northam Platinum for 2011 and it will start wage talks with the miner.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is also demanding housing allowances to be increased to 3 500 rand a month.
“We have no doubt that the employer will deliver on our demands. All our workers are hopeful that a demand of only (1,000 rand) on wages is reachable,” Zwelitsha Tantsi, NUM’s chief negotiator at Northam said in a statement, Reuters reports.

The wage rise demand applies across the board, the union said.

Last year, the workers accepted a 10-13 percent pay rise offer, depending on each worker’s category, after a six-week strike, which cost the company 380 million rand in lost revenue.

The miners then also agreed to an increase in living allowances to 1,800 rand and that workers in the company’s hostels would for the first time receive an allowance of 600 rand per month.

NUM is this year also demanding a 14 percent pay rise increase from Northam’s bigger rival Impala Platinum and from gold and coal miners.

Companies have said they can ill-afford raises that far exceed inflation but unions are keen to get a fair share of profits they see expanding with global commodity prices.

South Africa’s inflation rate stood at 4.2 percent in April.

The country’s three-largest gold miners, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold are also grappling with rising costs related to the mine depths. Meanwhile, rising wage costs have been taking increasingly bigger bites out of their margins.

South Africa is the world’s largest platinum producer and a major gold producer.