Platinum strikers reject pay deal

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AmcuStrikeAllGreen Independent Newspapers. Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Johannesburg - The biggest union at South Africa’s platinum mines said members are rejecting the latest pay offer from the world’s largest producers to end a more than three-month strike at most of their operations.

Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin are offering to raise monthly pay, including bonuses and living allowances, to 12,500 rand by 2017, or as much as 10 percent annually.

After three days of talks with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union last week, the companies said they would put their latest offer directly to employees.

South Africa’s inflation rate was 6 percent in March.

“Members are not interested in the offer,” Amcu General Secretary Jeff Mphahlele said by phone today.

“The 12,500 rand isn’t there, so they aren’t happy.”

The union wants basic monthly pay, excluding bonuses, of 12,500 rand in four years.

The strike, started by more than 70,000 Amcu members on January 23, is the country’s longest mining-industry stoppage, according to the Chamber of Mines.

It has cost the companies about 15.3 billion rand in lost revenue and workers 6.8 billion rand in income, they said.

Amplats’ parent, Anglo American, cut full-year output estimates by as much as 13 percent on April 24 and said more reductions are possible due to the strike.

 

Meetings Planned

 

The Amcu met Impala employees on April 25 and visited some of Amplats mines over the weekend, with workers rejecting the wage offer at both companies, union Treasurer Jimmy Gama said.

Amcu is meeting Lonmin labourers today in Marikana and gatherings at the remaining Amplats mines should be completed tomorrow, he said.

The union is scheduled to talk with the mining companies again later in the week, according to Gama.

While no meetings have been scheduled between the Amcu and the producers, the companies remain open to seeing the union, Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for the mines at Russell & Associates, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“The strike is now less likely to end with a sector-wide agreement, further delaying any resumption of production and significantly increasing the risk of violence,” Mark Rosenberg, an Africa analyst at New York-based Eurasia Group, said yesterday in a note to clients.

A group of about 4,000 people looted shops near Impala’s no. 9 shaft yesterday, South African Police in the North West province, said in a statement.

On April 27, people threw stones at an entourage that accompanied Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who was visiting a centre for the disabled about 16 kilometres (10 miles) north of Rustenburg, the police said.

Four people have been arrested and will appear in court today, North West province police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said by phone.

The strike has had a “spillover effect,” hurting business in areas such as Rustenburg, where mining provides about half the jobs and 60 percent of the economy, Thapelo Matebesi, a spokesman for the local municipality, said April 2. - Bloomberg News



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