South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has signed a three-year wage deal with platinum producer Northam Platinum that secures wage hikes of more than double the inflation rate for its members, the union said on Tuesday.
Depressed prices and rising costs mean South African mining companies have scant room for big wage hikes but unions maintain the increases come off a low base rooted in the country’s apartheid past when the black labour force was exploited and underpaid.
NUM said in a statement that the increases for the lowest-paid underground workers would be 1,000 rand ($69.00) per month in 2018, with raises of 1,100 rand and 1,200 rand a month over the next two years.
According to Reuters’ calculations this works out to increases of just under 11 percent annually, compared with an inflation rate of 4.9 percent.
Northam is in better shape than most of its peers, boosted by high grades and a swing to mechanisation.
Its annual operating profit rose by more than 34 percent to 823 million rand for the year to June 30 although preference share dividend arrangement meant it posted a loss.