Johannesburg - Impala Platinum (Implats) has reached a deadlock in wage talks with the biggest union at its operations and will be seeking a mediated settlement to avoid a possible strike.
Implats and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) had arrived at an impasse after the union refused to accept a wage increase of 5.5 percent, Johan Theron, a spokesman for the second-largest platinum producer, said on Friday.
“We’re still far apart,” Theron said of the talks, which started on August 19. “It allows us to get someone in to help. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
Over the past year, Amcu has usurped the National Union of Mineworkers as the biggest representative of workers in the local platinum mining industry.
Profit margins have shrunk as prices have declined and costs, including wages, have grown faster than the rate of inflation. Amcu is demanding basic wages for underground workers of R12 500 a month.
The deadlock would probably be mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said. “It is another level of negotiations. We cannot say how it will play out.”
The union would refer a similar deadlock over wages with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the largest producer, to the CCMA, Mathunjwa added. A strike over the company’s plans to cut 4 800 positions was in its eighth day on Friday.
Amplats was still in talks with Amcu to solve the job cuts dispute, spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said in a text message.
The company was losing 3 100 ounces of platinum group metals daily because of the strike at its operations in North West, it said on Thursday.
Lonmin started wage talks with unions on Thursday, spokeswoman Sue Vey said. She declined to divulge details of its intended wage offer.
Implats fell 2.33 percent to R117.38 on Friday, Amplats lost 0.91 percent to R406.25 and Lonmin fell 0.4 percent to R50.20. – Bloomberg