Platinum producers in bid to end strike

Platinum producers made a new wage offer last week in a bid to end a three-month strike at their mines that has hit 40 percent of global output of the industrial metal.
Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s top producer, and Impala Platinum (Implats), the second biggest, said in separate statements they had offered annual increases of 7,5 percent to 10 percent, compared with an earlier offer of as much as 9 percent per year.

The companies’ new wage increase offer would push the overall salary package of all their underground workers to R12 500 a month by 2017.

On its side, the union has softened its original wage demand from R12 500 to be achieved immediately to the same amount over three to four years.

“This settlement offer has been made in the interests of bringing an end to the debilitating 12-week strike that has crippled the platinum sector and has brought untold hardship to employees, their families, communities and the companies,” Amplats said.

It was unclear whether Lonmin, the third-largest producer, has offered a similar deal.

Talks between the companies and leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) are scheduled to continue, following a four-day Easter holiday weekend.

Amplats, Implats and Lonmin have so far lost R13,5bn in revenue to the longest and most damaging South African mining strike in living memory.

The producers have consistently said they cannot afford the Amcu wage demands due to rising operating costs and depressed prices for the precious metal, which is used in catalytic converters in motor cars.

Last week’s meeting took place between officials on both sides at the highest levels since the early days of the strike, including the chief executives of the three companies, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.

The strike has also been a headache for President Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress as a national election is just three weeks away.

Amacu had asked the government and the public for funds to help sustain 70 000 striking members who have gone nearly three months without pay. — fin24.

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