South Africa’s platinum producers see Sibanye wage settlement as benchmark

As South Africa’s platinum giants continue wage talks with labour unions, it has emerged that producers could push towards a pay settlement figure given to gold miners by Sibanye-Stillwater earlier this year.

Sibanye agreed to increase the pay of workers at its three gold mines by 5.5%, following a five-month strike, and this agreement is viewed as a good benchmark in the platinum industry according to a person familiar with the matter.

Last week, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings and Sibanye began the first round of wage negotiations with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) – the sector’s biggest labour union.

However, Amcu doesn’t see Sibanye’s gold deal as a barometer for platinum workers, and is demanding a wage increase of as much as 48%.

“The settlement in gold was just for gold,” said Amcu secretary general Jeffrey Mphahlele. “Salaries are too low and we must create a balance, companies must come to the party and assist the people.

“All our demands are important because they address the core issues of living standards for the workers,” he added.

In 2014, Amcu led a platinum industry strike which became the longest and most expensive in South African history, before eventually accepting a 12.5% increase in pay for the lowest paid workers.