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Successful wage negotiations methods the Chamber of Mines should use to avoid a crippling strike

by , 26 June 2013
With strike season well and truly underway, wage negotiations talks are set to begin early next month. And the Chamber of Mines is bracing itself for the toughest round of negotiations with gold mines yet. This, after new player in the industry, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), tabled its demands to the chamber this week asking gold mining companies to double miners' pay, Eye Witness News reports. If unions and the employers fail to reach an agreement, a wave of strikes could erupt in the already volatile mining industry. While the Chamber of Mines prepares to meet with all mining unions before officially starting wage talks next month, here are seven tips you can use to ensure wage negotiations with your staff are successful.

According to Eye Witness News, Amcu's move to table its demands comes in the backdrop of a decision by rival union the National Union of Mineworkers to table its demands for a minimum wage of R7,000 for the lowest paid surface miner and R12,500 for those working underground.

Meanwhile, the chamber's chief negotiator Elize Strydom acknowledged the wage talks will be a mammoth task.

'There's no doubt that these negotiations will be tough and the companies can't afford what's being put on the table. 'We will try to find a solution, normally that would be the middle ground, what the company can afford and the expectation of the workers,' Eye Witness News reports.

And that's why the Chamber will first hold pre-negotiations meetings with unions before the talks commence in July.

While the Chamber remains optimistic that the wage talks will be successful, their biggest mistake would be to 'walk into wage negotiations with trade unions without a fundamental knowledge of collective bargaining, the negotiation process and the relevant legislation,' warns The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

To prevent this, there are methods they can use to conduct wage negotiations successfully and avoid a deadlock that'll cause disruptions to an industry that saw 34 people being killed by police in mining unrest at Lonmin's Marikana mine last year and billions of rand lost in output as well as credit downgrades.

Be careful not to overlook this area as well in your company – because all companies face the threat of a crippling strike when wage negotiations come to a deadlock.

Avoid strikes using these seven wage negotiations essentials

  1. Don't attempt to lead wage negotiations until you've properly developed the skills necessary for successful negotiations. If you 'mess it up you could either unnecessarily cause a strike or end up agreeing to wage increases you can't afford,' says Loose Leaf.
  2. Invest substantial time and effort in thorough preparation for wage negotiations.
  3. Devise a strategy that'll get you what you want, while still reaching a settlement that's acceptable to your employees.
  4. Ensure you've agreed strike rules with your employees and unions and a strike contingency plan in place well before wage negotiation time.
  5. When you reach a deadlock, don't hesitate to call in an experienced mediator.
  6. Ensure in advance you have the right people on your team and you have all the resources you need.
  7. Keep discussions calm, rational, impersonal, cordial and focused at all times.

Using these methods will ensure you conduct wage negotiations with your employees successfully and avoid a crippling strike that the mining industry could face if they fail to reach an agreement with unions.

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