Unions have hailed the agreement adding that it showed the lives of workers would change gradually.
JOHANNESBURG – AngloGold Ashanti yesterday agreed to a three-year wage settlement and a new shift arrangement that will see entry-level employees earn R1 000 more a year in the third year – a deal labelled by unions as historic.
AngloGold Ashanti signed the 6.5 percent salary hike with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), trade union Solidarity and Uasa.
Commenting on the deal, Chris Sheppard, AngloGold Ashanti’s chief operating officer: South Africa, said the deal was a step in an important process to improve pay for its employees, particularly those at the entry level while providing certainty as it works to return its business in the country to profitability.
Sheppard also said the deal was important for safe production.
“The new shift arrangement is an important factor, as it provides an opportunity for us to realise improvements in productivity and safe production, which are essential to the long-term sustainability of the business.”
The company employs 7 000 people in its Mponeng mine, the mine waste solutions tailings retreatment operation, as well as the surface rock-dump reclamation operations in the Vaal River region.
In a press conference yesterday, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the agreement was historic, adding that it showed the lives of workers would change gradually.
“It is historical that in the gold sector these employers can be in the position to give an increment of R1 000 excluding the benefits.
“It shows clearly that by the end of the year, the lowest-paid worker will not earn less than R11 000 at AngloGold Ashanti, because we still have a shift that we have signed, which gave them R2 700,” he said.
“It will prevent them from going to a loan shark. They will be able to afford the basics.
“We are headed in the right direction. It is clear that at the end of the three years no worker will earn less than R14 000 a month at AngloGold Ashanti,” he said.
In August 2012, mineworkers called for wages to be hiked to R12 500 monthly, and the subsequent events resulted in 44 workers dying at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.
The unions are now preparing to present the settlement to Sibanye-Stillwater, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef during a dispute resolution meeting scheduled for Thursday after talks deadlocked.
Gideon du Plessis, the general secretary of Solidarity, said the agreement with AngloGold Ashanti was reached without a dispute process – a first for mining. He blamed Sibanye for negotiating in bad faith.
“It is especially Sibanye-Stillwater who should stop playing games and start negotiating in good faith. The company is always moving the goalpost,” he said.
In terms of the agreement, entry-level employees will receive an increase of R700 in year one, R800 in year two and R900 in year three. Miners, artisans and officials will receive increases of 5.5 percent for each year of the agreement.
In addition, revised shift arrangements will make provision for a shift arrangement increase of R300 in year one, R200 in year two and R100 in year three for entry-level employees and 1percent each year for miners, artisans and officials.
– BUSINESS REPORT