Johannesburg - Changing labour laws to impose a settlement in the platinum mining sector strike is not a good idea, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Wednesday.

“Such a solution would have to be enforced by the police and we have already seen that the relationship between the police and the trade unions is volatile to say the least,” chamber president Janine Myburgh said in a statement.

“We need a solution that is acceptable to both parties and there are better ways to achieve this.”

The chamber was reacting to comments by Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi in Pretoria on Tuesday.

He said there was a deficiency in South African law.

“We don't have deadlock breaking mechanisms in terms of government. If I had that tool at my disposal I could have used it,” he said referring to the five-month-long strike.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have been on strike at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin in the North West platinum belt since January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.

They have so far rejected the companies' offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12,500 by July 2017.

So far, employees have forfeited wages of around R9.7 billion, according to a website set up by the companies

The industry has lost R22bn in revenue.

Ramatlhodi announced this week he was withdrawing from the talks between Amcu and the mining companies.

This was after he set up an intergovernmental task team two weeks ago.

Myburgh said the minister needed the power to enforce a secret ballot to allow workers to vote whether they wanted to continue striking.

“This, together with the use of operational data to make informed decisions, will make a significant impact.

“We already have a situation in which the employers say the majority of workers want to end the strike while the union says the majority want to continue,” she said.

Asking the workers was the simplest way to end the argument. - Sapa