Johannesburg - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) appears poised to reject the latest pay offer tabled by platinum producers, as the union does not believe it goes far enough to resolve the dispute that has disrupted production for three months.
Although Amcu has yet to give a formal response to the employers, early indications yesterday suggested that the offer would not be deemed acceptable, according to labour union and industry officials.
The latest offer was tabled on Thursday ahead of the Easter long weekend, a time when most of the migrant miners head home to their families.
“Amcu is not happy with the offer; they did not accept it and wanted more,” Johan Theron, a spokesman for Impala Platinum, said yesterday.
“We indicated that we cannot offer more without putting shafts at risk of closure… Our willingness to pay more must be balanced with our ability to pay our employees more money,” he added.
Impala and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) announced on Thursday that they had tabled a revised wage offer in an attempt to end the strike in the platinum belt, which accounts for more than half of the world’s supplies.
Lonmin is expected to issue a statement on the revised offer today.
When contacted for comment yesterday, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said a statement would be issued today.
Under the revised offer, employers proposed that the cash remuneration for entry-level underground employees would rise to R12 500 a month, or R150 000 a year, by July 2017.
To achieve this, the cash remuneration for these employees would rise by between 7.5 percent and 10 percent across various bands.
Cash remuneration includes allowances such as the living out allowance and holiday leave allowance, but excludes medical and retirement benefits, and any bonuses.
Amcu’s core demand is for a basic wage of R12 500 a month for entry-level underground staff, compared with the current minimum of R4 000 to R5 500 a month.
Talks between platinum producers and Amcu are scheduled to resume as planned today. Amplats did not immediately respond to requests for comment yesterday about what feedback it had received from the union.
A spokeswoman for Lonmin said Amcu had neither accepted nor rejected the offer as of last night.
Outright rejection of the offer would be a big blow for the platinum industry and the country at a time when there is already growing concern that the prolonged strike might eventually lead to the closure of some of the mines.
“There has been no formal response yet,” Theron said yesterday. “We are scheduled to meet again tomorrow [today].
“It is not easy to communicate the new offer over a long weekend.”
Last week Amcu hired 100 buses to transport striking members home for the Easter weekend.
About 70 000 Amcu members have been off work since January 23, costing the industry R14 billion in lost revenue and employees R6.2bn in lost wages. - Business Report