Impala Platinum’s Biggest Union Cuts Wage-Raise Demand 31%

The largest labor union at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) cut its wage-increase demand by 31 percent as the parties worked toward avoiding a possible strike, the world’s second-largest producer of the metal said.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union lowered its pay-raise request for underground employees to 8,668 rand ($837) a month excluding benefits from 12,500 rand, Johan Theron, a company spokesman, said today. Impala has increased the offer to the lowest-paid below-surface miners by 0.5 percentage point to 8.5 percent for the first year of the three-year deal, Theron said. They currently earn 5,500 rand.

“We are closer, but still far from one another,” Theron said in an-emailed response to questions.

The AMCU usurped the National Union of Mineworkers in the past year as the biggest representative of employees at the world’s three largest platinum producers, which mine most of their metal in South Africa. The companies’ profit margins declined after prices fell and costs, including wages, increased at a faster rate than the pace of inflation, which was 6 percent in September.

“The parties undertook to consult with their principals and meet again,” Theron said.

Impala fell for a second day, losing 1.4 percent to 132.58 rand by 11:44 a.m. in Johannesburg, giving the company a market value of 83.7 billion rand and paring an earlier decline of as much as 2.8 percent.

Amplats, Northam

AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa confirmed that Impala increased its offer when contacted by phone today. He didn’t comment on the union’s reduced demands.

The AMCU’s members on Oct. 28 voted to strike if the wage impasse wasn’t resolved, without setting a date.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration will today facilitate talks between the AMCU and Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS), the world’s largest producer of the metal. The union earlier rejected an offer by Amplats, as the Johannesburg-based company is known, to raise pay by 7 percent.

Security staff at Amplats’s Mogalakwena mine in the northern Limpopo province today broke up a group of protesters who were demanding jobs and destroying mine property, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

“Our security personnel had to fire warning shots using non-lethal ammunition to disperse the crowd,” it said. “The company has engaged the South African Police Service to try and bring calm to the area.”

Operations at Mogalakwena weren’t interrupted, Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said by phone.

Northam Platinum Ltd. (NHM), operator of the world’s deepest platinum mine, and the National Union of Mineworkers will attend a meeting called by the CCMA on Nov. 15, Ecliff Tantsi, the NUM’s chief negotiator at Northam, said by phone.

The union called a wage strike on Nov. 3 and rejected a revised offer to increase pay by as much as 9 percent on Nov. 7.

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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