Solidarity accepts gold wage offer

Trade union Solidarity accepted the two-year salary increase offer in the gold industry made by the Chamber of Mines on Monday.

"The trade union's members accepted the offer, given the current conditions in the gold industry, and in the hope that the agreement will promote the sustainability of the industry," Solidarity said in a statement.

Under the two-year offer, category four and five employees, and rock drill operators, will receive increases of eight percent, and other employees 7.5 percent with effect from July 1.

Employees will also receive inflation-linked increases with effect from July 1 next year, and the monthly living out allowance of R1640 will increase to R2000.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said the union had a few concerns, including that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union could reject the offer.

He said it was likely the other three unions would accept the offer.

"We are also concerned about Harmony Gold's failure so far to pay back unauthorised medical fund deductions.

"Harmony owes up to R30,000 in reimbursements to some of its employees and approximately R4 million in reimbursements to Solidarity members," he said.

The union would not let Harmony Gold's "malicious failure" to make the reimbursement payments hold up the wage agreement, but it would consider alternative legal remedies.

Du Plessis said that signing the agreement in the gold industry as quickly as possible would be in the country's best interests.

On Monday, gold producers said the two-year salary agreement was expected to be signed in the next few days.

"The agreement hasn't been signed yet. We are finalising the agreement and it should be signed in the next few days," said their representative spokeswoman Charmane Russell.

"I can confirm that all employees are back at work and operations across the gold industry have been normalised."

Russell said the finalisation of the agreement would not take long.

The revised offer was presented on Wednesday last week by the Chamber of Mines, which represents the companies AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Rand Uranium, Harmony Gold, Evander Gold, Sibanye Gold, and Village Main Reef.

Evander Gold and Village Main Reef reached an agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Uasa on Wednesday.

On Monday, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold said striking workers had returned to work.

Striking NUM staff at Gold Fields returned to work at the South Deep mine on Friday, the company said.

"We believe a two-year agreement will promote certainty and stability," said Gold Fields South Africa managing executive Kgabo Moabelo.

Harmony Gold said operations at all its mines were back to normal.

"[Harmony] is pleased to advise that operations at all of its mines were normalised with effect from the night shift on 8 September 2013," it said.

Harmony CEO Graham Briggs said the strike would affect both the company's performance for the quarter, and employees' earnings.

"Nonetheless, we are pleased to have reached a resolution," he said.

On Sunday, the NUM said disgruntled workers, who embarked on a strike on Tuesday, had accepted a new wage offer.

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