Amplats to Negotiate Wages at Same Time as Talks on Job Cuts

Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS), the world’s biggest producer of the metal, said it will start wage negotiations with labor unions in South Africa in August.

The talks will run at the same time as those about the company’s plans to eliminate 6,000 jobs at mines to help return to profit, Thabisile Phumo, a spokeswoman for Johannesburg-based Amplats (TOP40), said in an e-mailed response to questions. The talks about the positions started on June 10 and will end on Aug. 10, she said.

“We expect to run a parallel process,” Phumo said. The company has received wage demands from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the biggest representative of employees at its South African mines at 41 percent. Amplats has asked other unions to do the same, she said.

Producers in South Africa, which has the biggest known reserves of the metal, are struggling with higher costs as strikes drive above-inflation wage increases at a time of waning platinum demand and declines in commodity prices. More than half of the nation’s gold and platinum shares are operating at a loss, the Chamber of Mines said today. Amplats’ job cuts form part of its plans to idle three shafts and reduce annual output by 350,000 ounces of metal.

Trade union UASA wants negotiations on job reductions to be concluded before wage talks start, Franz Stehring, the organization’s head of mining, said by phone.

“You don’t want to be in a place where you negotiate wages with jobs cuts hanging over your head,” he said.

Amplats shares have declined 34 percent this year, while the spot price of platinum has fallen 11 percent, reaching $1,375.25 an ounce by 1:57 p.m. in London.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andre Janse van Vuuren in Johannesburg at ajansevanvuu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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