Johannesburg - Meetings between platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) aimed at ending the five-month-old strike in the sector were continuing on Friday.
“There have been meetings yesterday (Thursday) between Amcu and the producers and meetings are continuing today (Friday),” spokeswoman for the producers Charmane Russell said.
“Producers are quietly optimistic that a negotiated settlement can be found to the strike.”
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa and treasurer Jimmy Gama could not immediately be reached for comment.
Amcu and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats), and Lonmin reached separate “in principle” agreements earlier this month.
Amcu then submitted written responses to Lonmin, Amplats, and Implats, with new demands.
The companies said the additional demands would involve extra costs of around R1 billion in aggregate.
Russell confirmed on Thursday that the additional demands included a R3000 return-to-work payment for each striking worker, withdrawal of criminal charges against Amcu members arrested during the strike, and a moratorium on retrenchments.
The SABC on Thursday quoted Gama as saying that Amcu's demands in response to the in principle agreement were not new.
“All the in principle conditions that we have forwarded to the employers are related to the demands which we put forward last year,” he said.
He said it was general practice for issues dealing with return to work to be raised “when parties are about to sign an agreement”.
Amcu members at Amplats, Implats, and Lonmin went on strike on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.
Talks facilitated by the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) stalled in March after the CCMA ruled that the parties were too far apart.
Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi set up an inter-governmental task team last month in an attempt to break the deadlock.
On June 9 the task team withdrew from the talks.
The following day Ramatlhodi denied he had abandoned the talks.
“The simple reason behind this is that I strongly believe we have done enough work over the past two weeks... for the parties to take the process forward and continue engaging on their own,” he said at the time.
By Friday, the strike had cost the industry R23.4bn in lost earnings, while employees had forfeited wages of around R10.4bn, according to a website set up by the companies, www.platinumwagenegotiations.co.za. - Sapa