75-day strike at Northam mine ends

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LonminMine Independent Newspapers. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya.

Johannesburg - Members of Northam Platinum Ltd.’s largest union accepted a pay offer after a two-month strike at its Zondereinde mine, pushing its shares to a 2-1/2 year high.

“The offer is accepted,” Ecliff Tantsi, the National Union of Mineworkers’ chief negotiator at Zondereinde, said by phone.

Workers are expected to return on January 21 after the agreement is signed, he said.

The strike began November 3.

Members accepted gains of as much as 9.5 percent, a bonus for living off site and a one-time payout of 3,000 rand ($276) in installments, Tantsi said.

The union, representing about 80 percent of workers at the mine in the north of the country, says that brings the total increase to as much as 11.8 percent.

“The end of the strike is positive for Northam,” Michael Kavanagh, a Noah Capital Markets analyst in Cape Town, said by e-mail.

He recommends Northam as a short-term buy as the biggest producers still face a strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the biggest in the industry.

Northam advanced as much as 3.1 percent, the highest level since June 2011, and was up 1.9 percent at 43.35 rand by 3:06 p.m. in Johannesburg trading.

About 245,000 shares traded, about 112 percent of the daily average over the past three months.

The NUM on January 7 cut its demand for a wage gain to up to 1,900 rand a month over two years and improved housing benefit.

The entry-level pay at the mine is 5,300 rand a month, it says.

The union’s previous proposal for an average pay increase of 16 percent and a 69 percent expansion in the allowance for living off site was “unaffordable for the company and out of kilter with the settlements reached in the gold sector and at a number of other platinum producers,” Northam said on January 6. - Bloomberg News

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