Mediated platinum strike talks continue

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AngloPlatStrike Reuters.

Johannesburg - The world’s three biggest platinum producers plan more talks with a labour court judge who has been mediating between the companies and the main union in South Africa to resolve a four-month strike over pay.

“The producers met with the judge yesterday and expect to meet with her again later today,” Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for the three producers at Russell & Associates, said by e-mail.

The latest phase of negotiations between Anglo American Platinum, or Amplats, Impala Platinum, Lonmin and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union began last week.

Labour Court Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker is seeking to guide the talks toward an agreement that will end a strike that has paralyzed mines since January 23.

Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa didn’t answer a phone call seeking comment.

The producers want to end the walkout by more than 70,000 miners that the companies say has cost them 19.8 billion rand ($1.9 billion) in revenue and the workers 8.8 billion rand in wages.

Ngoako Ramatlhodi, South Africa’s minister of mineral resources, wants to “find a way of facilitating an agreement” to end the strike, he told reporters in Pretoria yesterday after he was sworn into office.

“The current system of labour relations has collapsed,” he said.

The Amcu wants basic monthly pay, without benefits, to more than double to 12,500 rand in four years for entry-level underground employees.

The producers say they can’t afford the demands.

Impala has extended leave for workers until June 2 and will review the situation again later this week, Johan Theron, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Impala has shut its South African mines, Amplats is running some operations in the country, while Lonmin on May 13 invited workers to return for duty. - Bloomberg News

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