Workers give Implats new wage demand

Johannesburg - South Africa's Impala Platinum, the world's second-largest platinum producer, has received new wage demands from a workers' committee made up of members of mining unions.

A senior Implats official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters the demands had come from an “interim workers' committee” made up of members from both the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the smaller but militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

This development may signal that the rank and file is taking matters into their own hands without oversight or direction from their national leadership.

The NUM could not immediately be reached for comment. A senior AMCU official said the demand was coming from the union's rank and file and not from the national office.

“Implats does not recognise us. If workers are doing that, they are doing that on their own,” General Secretary Jeff Mphahlehle told Reuters.

A turf war between AMCU and the NUM closed the world's largest platinum mine, run by Implats, for six weeks earlier this year.

Rivalry between the unions is also behind a wave of violence that killed 44 people last month near Lonmin's Marikana mine, where almost all operations have been shut for nearly a month.

The government has been trying to broker a peace accord between the unions to avoid lasting damage to the platinum industry and mining sector, which accounts for 8 percent of South African economic output.

There has been no indication of what workers are demanding at Implats. Striking workers at Lonmin are seeking a base pay of R12 500 a month, more than double their current wage.

The labour unrest in South Africa's mining industry is spreading from platinum to gold with steep wage demands neither sector can afford. - Reuters