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Saturday, 11/16/2019 8:47:10 AM

Saturday, November 16, 2019 8:47:10 AM

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Platinum miners, unions sign wage agreement

15th November 2019

Platinum group metals (PGMs) miners, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Sibanye-Stillwater on Friday signed a three-year wage agreement with unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and UASA.

Amplats noted in a statement on Friday that its wage agreement included an increase of R1 000 a month in basic pay, or 5.5%, whichever is greatest, for each year of the agreement.

"We are very pleased to have reached an agreement and we welcome the collaborative and constructive engagements with the unions throughout the process. We believe this agreement will ensure the business can remain sustainable through the typical PGM price cycles, while our employees will benefit from meaningful pay and other increases,” commented Amplats CEO Chris Griffith.

In addition to the increase in basic pay, Amplats employees will also receive an ex-gratia payment of R1 000 in July 2020 and R1 500 in July 2021.

The three-year agreement will increase Amplats' total labour cost-to-company by 7.4% in year one of the agreement, by 6.1% in year two and by 6.3% in year three.

Implats, meanwhile, said its operating subsidiaries, Rustenburg operations and Marula Platinum, had agreed to a wage settlement that assures employees of increases to all major components of remuneration, including basic salaries, living-out and home ownership allowances and medical aid and pension fund contributions.

"The agreement is in line with current mining inflation of about 7% and takes into consideration the reality of inflationary pressures faced by our employees.

"This agreement secures three years of stability at Implats’ operating entities and has been achieved through a collaborative process typified by mutual respect and consideration and without requiring intervention or mediation by third parties. The agreement removes substantial uncertainty for our employees and allows a singular focus on the pursuit of safe and sustainable production," it commented.

JSE- and NYSE-listed Sibanye, meanwhile, agreed to increases to the basic wage of Category 4 to 9 surface and underground employees for both the Marikana and Rustenburg operations of R1 000 a month or 5%, whichever is the higher in the first year; R1 000 a month or 5%, whichever is the higher in the second year; and R1 000 a month or 5%, whichever is the higher in the third year.

The pensionable base pay would increase by 3.5% for the Marikana operation over each of the next three years, while the Rustenburg pensionable base pay and allowance base would increase by 5% over each of the next three years.

Further, the allowance of rock drill operators at the Rustenburg and Marikana operations would increase by R100 a month for each of the three years.

Miners, artisans and officials would receive increases of R1 000 a month or 5%, whichever is the higher per year for the three years.

Sibanye stated that the total guaranteed monthly income for an entry-level, Category 4 underground employee was now between R18 400 and R18 500 a month in year one, between R19 500 and R19 600 a month in year two and between R20 700 and R20 800 a month in year three – all before tax.

Further, the total average monthly cost to company, including average bonuses, overtime and Unemployment Insurance Fund, but before taxes, for the same employees was in the range of R21 300 to R21 400 in year one, R22 400 to R22 600 in year two and R23 600 to R23 800 in year three.

Basic pay alone was now between R12 500 and R12 700 in year one, R13 500 and R13 700 in year two and R14 500 and R14 700 in year three.

“We are pleased to have reached a wage agreement with the representative unions which results in competitive remuneration for our employees, while taking into account the longer-term sustainability of our South African PGM operations.

"It is encouraging that the negotiations were conducted in a constructive manner without any disruption. By continuing to work together in support of safe production, we will secure the sustainability of the operations, and create superior long-term value for all of our stakeholders while improving lives through our mining," commented Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman.

AMCU described the conclusion of the "progressive wage agreements" as a "monumental victory" for the union and its members.

Union president Joseph Mathunjwa said wage-led growth was the only way to grow the economy.

"AMCU’s militant trade unionism and gallantry have championed the economic liberation of the working class in the platinum sector. This latest triumph marks an elongated trail of victories in which AMCU, as the majority union in the platinum belt, has fought to recapture more than R8-billion from employers to plenish the wages of workers," the union added.

It also pointed out that the lowest-paid underground employee in the platinum sector now earned a minimum of R12 000 a month.