Solidarity has announced it will not sign a salary agreement that Kumba Iron Ore wants to impose on its members.
This follows after Kumba, as Anglo American’s iron ore producer, subsequently reached an agreement with the other mining unions involved following the dispute declaration by Solidarity. Kumba wants to make it automatically apply to Solidarity’s members.
“Our refusal to sign is a matter of principle,” says Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity. “Kumba is not negotiating in good faith and is forcing an unfavorable agreement on our members. He introduces unfair practices which result in certain categories of workers having to subsidize the increases of other workers.”
According to the new agreement, skilled workers will receive a lower percentage increase than predominantly semi-skilled workers. This practice stems from the previous three-year wage agreement when the same unfair principle was applied by Kumba.
The new agreement offers workers at mostly higher job levels increases of 6.5%, 5.5% and 5% over the next three years. Workers at lower job levels will receive increases of between 8% and 7.5% for year one, and increases of 6% and 5.5% for the two years thereafter.
Du Plessis argues that Kumba also, as with the previous agreement, used contradictory wording in a clause for the reopening of negotiations, should inflation rise above a certain percentage.
He believes the clause has no binding force and is misleading. Under the previous agreement, the same clause resulted in a minimal adjustment well below the CPI for its members, while other workers received above-inflation adjustments.
“Despite favorable results for his financial year, Kumba started presenting poverty during the negotiations. They were unwilling to offer their employees an increase in line with Statistics South Africa’s (SSA) inflation rate of 7.1% for the Northern Cape, where Kumba’s mines are located.
“Our members experience daily how Anglo American presents an image of how there is never a monetary deficit when it comes to corporate luxuries, but there is when increases come into question.”