Lonmin CEO Ben Magara.

Johannesburg - The current wage demand by labour union Amcu in the platinum sector is unaffordable, Lonmin CEO Ben Magara said on Thursday.

“I feel for the challenges they (mineworkers) are going through... We are working hard but it is difficult... the demand is unaffordable,” he said.

“The world is watching us take each other into poverty... We need to accept the realities.”

Magara accepted a memorandum from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa and Amcu members in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.

Amcu members at Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum, and Impala Platinum downed tools on January 23. They have so far rejected a wage increase of up to nine percent. The companies, in turn, rejected Amcu's revised demand that the R12,500 could be achieved over four years.

Magara said Lonmin was prepared to talk because it understood there was still a way to go to improve the conditions of employees.

“We have worked hard, but there is still so much to do,” he said.

“As we accept your memorandum and reflect on it, Mr Mathunjwa we ask you to reflect on the realities of our own industries.”

He said they needed to resolve the strike because it was not benefiting anyone. As Magara spoke a man shouted “not nine percent”.

Mathunjwa said Amcu was willing to negotiate but “not on your terms of nine percent”.

He said he gave Magara until April 9 to respond.

Amcu intended to march to various embassies next week and to Parliament the week after, said Mathunjwa.

After the men signed the memorandum a prayer was said and the hundreds of Amcu members went back down Athol Oaklands Road to the buses that had brought them there.

The stage that was erected at the entrance to Melrose Arch was taken down and the road reopened.