Johannesburg - A meeting between the labour department, platinum mining companies and union Amcu will go ahead on Friday, as planned, the labour ministry said.
“The meeting is back on tomorrow (Friday) at 9am at the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) offices in Johannesburg,” Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant's spokesman Musa Zondi said on Thursday.
It was earlier said the meeting would not take place on Friday.
Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union at Lonmin Platinum in Marikana, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Impala Platinum (Implats) mines, went on strike on Thursday.
They are pushing for an entry-level monthly salary of R12 500.
On Tuesday, the companies said Amcu's wage demands were unaffordable and unrealistic.
Earlier on Thursday, Zondi compared the importance of ending the strike to breathing, as the economy would not able to take another hit.
However, workers also had real grievances that needed to be addressed, with talks being “a balancing act”.
“The reality is the country can't take another prolonged strike, so it is with that in mind that the minister is anxious to get the parties together so we can find a middle ground,” Zondi said.
“In the end, workers lose out. Whatever they eventually get, gets cancelled by... whatever they lost when they were on strike. The economy needs to keep jobs and be stable.”
In a joint statement on Thursday, the platinum companies welcomed the government's offer to mediate in the ongoing dispute with Amcu.
Amplats CEO Chris Griffith, Implats CEO Terence Goodlace and Lonmin CEO Ben Magara reiterated that a prolonged strike would probably further damage South Africa's reputation as an attractive business and investment destination.
It would also have “a negative impact on the revenue flows and sustainability of the platinum operations, and job losses at a number of marginal mines and shafts”.
“Striking is not a constructive solution if we are to return the company to a sustainable financial footing and secure existing jobs,” said Griffith.
Magara said the companies remained committed to finding a solution, and would continue to engage at all levels to find an agreement.
Goodlace said they were resolute in their efforts to find a solution which would secure the sustainability of the business and preserve jobs as far as possible.
SABC radio reported that Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said members had mandated the union's leaders to agree to the meeting proposal, with a response required by Thursday afternoon.
“We'll await from the (deputy) president's office and the minister of labour how... they schedule the way forward in terms of the dates for negotiations,” Mathunjwa told miners in Marikana, North West.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe's spokesman Thabo Masebe said Oliphant would facilitate at the proposed meeting.
“The workers have the right to strike. Obviously, as government, we are concerned a prolonged strike would have negative impacts on the economy and on the workers,” he said.
“It will affect everybody. We are happy that both parties do recognise the need to engage in meaningful negotiations so that a settlement for the dispute can be found as quickly as possible.”