The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) – together with other unions – has signed a new wage agreement at Harmony Gold that includes a housing allowance and improved medical cover.
Commenting on the agreement on Thursday, NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim said the agreement was “groundbreaking because of the improvements in workers’ basic pay”.
The lowest-paid workers will receive a minimum R1 000 increase year on year for the next three years.
On average the lowest-paid workers at Harmony Gold earn R10 478.
However, by the third year of the agreement these workers will earn an average of R13 478.
“We are pace setters,” said Jim in reference to the agreement.
“We are telling employers in the commodity sector that are currently experiencing a boom period, that we are not going to allow workers to continue to be exploited and it is time that workers receive a living wage.”
In line with the agreement, Harmony will incrementally increase the minimum medical incapacity benefit from R60 000 to R75 000 over three years.
If an employee buys a house or already has an existing bond, or is an existing homeowner, Harmony will introduce a housing allowance determined as follows:
– LOA (Living Out Allowance) plus 10% from Sept 2021 (R2500+250 = R2750)
– LOA plus 15% from 1 Sept 2022 (R2600+390 = R2990)
– LOA plus 20% from 1 Sept 2023 (R2700 +R540 = R3240)
The agreement is valid from the 1st of July 2021 and will remain in force until the 30th of June 2024
“Employers cannot continue to hide behind Covid-19 as the reason to deny workers a living wage,” warned Jim.
The NUMSA general secretary said the agreement was signed against the backdrop of stalled talks in the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council.
“We are currently deadlocked, and we have obtained a certificate to strike. It is not too late for employers in engineering to come to the table and negotiate,” said Jim.
“Failure to do so means that we will meet them in the streets.
“We are meeting on Sunday for a Special NEC and that meeting will pronounce on whether we embark on a national strike in engineering or not.”