Mines minister to try end platinum strike

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Ngoako Ramatlhodi1

Independent Newspapers.

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi. Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Johannesburg - The new mining minister will meet with the world’s largest platinum producers after they and the main union at their mines failed to reach an accord to settle an 18-week pay strike.

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi met with the leadership of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) yesterday, he told Power FM today.

The organisation has led more than 70,000 workers on strike at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin since January 23.

All talks have so far yielded no outcome, Ramatlhodi said.

“I’ve only met one portion, I’m meeting others today,” said Ramatlhodi, who took office two days ago.

’’I’m very conscious that we don’t have time.’’

A labour court judge mediated the latest round of talks between the parties.

The strike, which is the industry’s longest and costliest stoppage, resulted in mining’s biggest drop in 47 years in the three months through March, leading to the first contraction in gross domestic product since a 2009 recession, according to Statistics South Africa.

The Amcu wants basic monthly pay, without benefits, to reach 12,500 rand by 2017 for entry-level underground employees.

The demands would equate to a 30 percent increase in the first year of the agreement, which the companies say is unaffordable.

They’re offering raises of as much as 10 percent annually.

Consumer inflation was 6.1 percent in April.

The strike cost the companies 471,720 ounces of production in the first quarter.

The producers have lost 20 billion rand of revenue to date and workers have given up 8.9 billion rand in wages, the companies said on a joint website. - Bloomberg News


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