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Platinum firms plan more talks with Amcu

Johannesburg - The world’s largest platinum producers are seeking more meetings with the biggest union at their mines in South Africa to discuss a compromise on new pay demands delaying a settlement of a 21-week strike.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union submitted additional terms that the producers estimate would cost about R1-billion, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Striking miners gather in Johannesburg to hear an update from Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa on March 27, 2014. File picture: Reuters. Credit: Reuters

“Often the last little bit is the hardest,” Johan Theron, a spokesman for Impala, said on Thursday by phone. “There’s a real desire to get this thing resolved.”

Impala will meet with the Amcu by Friday at the latest, he said.

Amplats, as the biggest producer is known, will hold a second day of talks with the union, spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said by email.

Amcu has led more than 70 000 workers on a stoppage since January 23 in the longest and costliest strike in South Africa, where about 70 percent or the world’s platinum is mined.

The union and producers last week agreed in principle on monthly pay increases of as much as R1 000 a year on current basic wages of about R5 000 to R6 000. The new demands include a R3 000 one-time payment for each employee on top of other allowance and wage increases.

The latest requests are unaffordable, the producers said in their statement. They have lost R23.2-billion in revenue since the start of the strike while workers have missed out on R10.3-billion in wages, the producers said on a joint website.

Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa didn’t answer a call seeking comment.

Sue Vey, a spokeswoman for Lonmin, wasn’t immediately able to say when the third-largest producer will have further talks with the union. - Bloomberg

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