CAPE TOWN – The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has been considering all options on the table to end the lengthy platinum mining sector strike, a union negotiator said on Thursday.
Media reports had suggested AMCU would not budge on its wage demand, AMCU negotiator Brian Ashley told the Cape Town Press Club.
“I have to say to you that is completely false. We have been putting forward several different proposals as tests to where we can go [to see] how we can find each other.”
Ashley has been part of the labour court-facilitated talks in Johannesburg.
He was accompanied at the Cape Town Press Club by three striking mineworker leaders and the Marikana support group.
AMCU members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum downed tools on January 23, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.
Ashley said the most favourable offer by employers was a R12 500 increase on all cash remuneration over five years, not on the basic salary, which amounted to an R800 increase.
“What AMCU… have said now is they are happy to get R12 500 phased in over four years on basic. This amounts to a R1 800 increase for each year,” he said.
“There is a gap between employers and the union of R1 000. The only compromise employers had made was in respect of an increase being phased in over four years.”
He said the union had proposed at one stage to consider a R1 350 increase in the basic salary and an 8.5 percent increase for category C workers.
Ashley claimed negotiations were being complicated by employers because they were calculating costs based on a much higher level of workers than were currently employed.
It was his view that employers were negotiating in bad faith.
“In other words, unions are being forced to accept a deal worse than minority unions were provided without ever going on strike. That is crazy.
“Employers do not want to see Amcu achieving such a victory, which it would be in the context of wage negotiations in SA.”
Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker, in mediating the negotiations, had told employers to put a “new and improved” offer on the table, Ashley claimed.
He said the only glimmer of hope was the intergovernmental technical team established by newly appointed Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi on Wednesday.
The team was made up of officials from the departments of mineral resources, labour, and the National Treasury, who would be supported by representatives from the mining companies and AMCU.
Ashley was encouraged that the team might want to see the employers’ books and look at what they could afford.
The team was set to meet at an undisclosed location later on Thursday.