Platinum producers to approach strikers

PlatinumTHE world’s largest platinum companies said they will put their latest pay offer directly to striking South African workers, bypassing their union after talks to end the 13-week walkout failed to win a breakthrough. Anglo American Platinum Ltd, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd and Lonmin Plc have “a duty to provide the details of the settlement offer to our employees and will do so forthwith,” they said in a joint statement.

The companies held three days of discussions with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union about an increased offer made April 17.

More than 70 000 members of the union have been on strike since January 23 in a walkout that has “crippled the platinum sector and has brought untold hardship to employees, their families, communities and the companies,” the producers said in a statement on Thursday.

South Africa’s longest mining strike has cost the companies about R14,5 billion ($1,36 billion) in lost revenue and workers R6,4 billion in income, they said.

The producers “arrogantly rebuffed” the union’s latest proposal to reach a settlement, the AMCU said in a statement.
It plans mass meetings with workers to explain developments and “it is difficult to predict how our members will react and what mandate they will give us,” it said.

Under last week’s revised proposal Amplats, as Anglo Platinum is known, Impala and Lonmin offered to raise pay including bonuses and living allowances to R12 500 a month by 2017, or as much as 10 percent annually, from an offer of 9 percent before.

That’s short of the union’s demand for monthly basic pay excluding bonuses of 12 500 rand within four years.
South Africa’s inflation rate was 6 percent in March.

“We strongly urge the AMCU leadership to take this fair settlement offer to their members and to let them decide,” Amplats Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith, Impala’s Terence Goodlace, and Ben Magara of Lonmin said in the joint statement.

Lonmin will communicate the offer directly to employees by text messages and radio announcements, with many workers having returned to their homes far from the mines during the Easter break, spokeswoman Susan Vey said by phone.

“We want to start it immediately and we’ve got various methods of doing that.”
Amplats’ production dropped 39 percent to 357 000 ounces in the first quarter from 583 000 ounces a year earlier, parent Anglo American Plc said Thursday.

Anglo cut its full-year production estimate by as much as 13 percent and said more reductions are possible because of the labour
action.

The union said its response will include solidarity actions “with our brothers and sisters all over the world where these companies operate and market their metals.”

The AMCU also said it remained “optimistic” of finding a solution to the impasse. – BLOOMBERG.

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