Lonmin mine near Rustenburg. File photo: Themba Hadebe

Johannesburg - Amcu allegations that Lonmin, Amplats and Impala Platinum used underhanded tactics in negotiations to end a three-month strike were dismissed by the platinum producers on Friday.

“The producers continue to act in good faith, in the interest of achieving a fair and sustainable outcome,” spokeswoman Charmane Russell said.

“We are disappointed by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s failure to do the same.”

In a statement on Thursday night, Amcu claimed that the platinum producers used “underhand methods” in the negotiations.

Amcu members at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin mining operations in Rustenburg in North West and Northam in Limpopo downed tools on January 23, demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

The three platinum companies tabled a wage increase offer of between 7.5 percent and 10 percent last week.

The proposed offer would see the minimum cash remuneration for entry-level underground workers rise to R12,500 a month or R150,000 per annum by July 2017.

Amcu claimed on Thursday that the producers would not divulge the costs of proposals on increases to the basic pay of the lowest-paid workers.

“When Angloplats (sic) eventually presented us with their calculation today after 13 weeks of the strike, it was found to be exaggerated by between R300 and R500 million,” Amcu said.

Russell said the companies' offers were clearly spelled out to the union and that the producers would not enter into a debate with Amcu on different interpretations of cost to company.

“Amcu has continually told us that they have no interest in what is affordable (or not) from the company’s perspective; they have told us we must focus on what the offer means to employees. We have done so.”

Russell urged Amcu to take the offer to its members. The producers would now take the offer directly to employees.

On Thursday, Amcu claimed that the platinum companies “arrogantly rebuffed” its latest proposal and said it was hard to predict how members would react.

“In spite of all our efforts we were faced with complete intransigence and games of smoke and mirrors,” the union said.

“We are left with the strong impression that there is a hidden agenda at play.”

Amcu would work out a strategy with its members “to break their intransigence and arrogance”.

“This will include solidarity actions and efforts with our brothers and sisters all over the world where these companies operate and market their metals.”

Amcu said it remained optimistic that a solution could be found to end the strike.

Russell said every day that passed without a resolution to the strike threatened the industry's sustainability.

“In an industry where almost half of operations were not making a profit before the strike began, and where employee costs comprise 50 to 55 percent of operating costs, an increase of between seven and 10 percent for employees is at the upper limit of what is affordable.”

In terms of the companies' offer last week, the minimum cash remuneration (comprising basic wages and holiday, living-out and other allowances) for entry level underground employees rises to R12,500 per month or R150,000 per annum by July 2017.

For Lonmin employees this reflects an increase in cash remuneration for the highest-paid employees of 7.5 percent and an increase for the lowest earners of 9.5 percent.

For Amplats and Implats employees, this is an increase in cash remuneration of 7.5 percent for the highest-paid employees and an increase of 10 percent for the lowest earners.