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South African unions sign five-year collective agreement with Harmony Gold

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10 April, 2024In a show of union power and solidarity, five South African trade unions jointly negotiated and secured a five-year collective bargaining agreement with Harmony Gold Mining Company on 4 April. 

The agreement gives workers’ wage increases that are above the rate of inflation. The cushion for workers’ wages is that for the next five years the inflation agreement is above the South African Reserve Bank inflation target zone of six per cent or less. Further, they have secured increases in housing allowances, employee share option scheme, and other benefits. 

Harmony Gold, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is the country’s largest gold producer with underground, open pit, and surface mining operations, and employs about 36 000 workers. 

The agreement signed by IndustriALL affiliates namely the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), and UASA together with two other unions, AMCU, and Solidarity, is effective from 1 July.

The agreement which covers the gold sector was reached three months before the expiry of the current collective agreement. Unions said the signing of the agreement before a deadlock or dispute being declared is unprecedented and a positive step towards industrial peace.

Mpho Phakedi, NUM acting general secretary, said:

“This agreement is a milestone in that it protects mineworkers’ wages from high inflation and the increasing cost of living. Further, workers got increases in the living out allowances that they use to pay rentals for accommodation, and in housing allowances, which are for buying homes. However, we will continue to monitor the agreement to ensure that workers benefits are not compromised or eroded over time.”

Irvin Jim, NUMSA general secretary said:

“NUMSA wishes to thank its union officials and the regional leadership for their hard work in securing this deal. We continue to lead the way as a union which is fighting for improved conditions and benefits for workers and their families.” 

Jacques Hugo, UASA chief executive officer added:

"Fair and reasonable adjustments are essential to collective bargaining. Five unions collaborated and negotiated on a united front for the first time,”

Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director for mining said:

“We welcome the good faith that is evident in these negotiations. This collective agreement is a win for workers and for trade union unity. It is important to stress that negotiations shouldn’t always be about long-drawn-out disputes as seen in the past; they can also be done amicably.”