Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.  Picture: GCIS
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. Picture: GCIS

DEPUTY President Kgalema Motlanthe is confident that unions and mining houses will agree on a framework next week to curb rising uncertainty in South Africa’s mining sector.

Speaking in Sandton on Friday, he assured businesspeople attending the Alexander Forbes Leading Conversations breakfast that eliminating acts of violence, intimidation and lawlessness in the sector was a priority.

The mining industry has been hit by a spate of violence related to union rivalry, which has escalated in the past 12 months.

"I can assure you that all the stakeholders will sign off on July 3. They will be on board," Mr Motlanthe said.

The deputy president also addressed the heated issue of wage demands.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said this week that it demanded increases of up to 100% for all unskilled and semiskilled employees in the gold-mining sector. Its demands include a minimum entry-level wage of R11,500 for surface workers and R12,500 for underground workers.

These demands dwarfs those of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which has asked for a 60% increase for entry-level workers.

At present, the minimum wage in the gold industry is about R5,000 and varies slightly between mining houses.

Mr Motlanthe said the recent wage demands were not "alarming" as unions used these as a base to open negotiations.

"We don’t get involved in the wage bargaining. These are bargaining discussions trying to find a meeting point," he said. "I know the companies are not alarmed by this. They will settle where the companies can afford. I wouldn’t be unduly alarmed — these are mere opening gambits."

Mr Motlanthe is leading a government team tasked by President Jacob Zuma with bringing stability to the mining sector.