Amplats Union Delays Vote on Strike Over Pay to Next Year

The dominant union at Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS)’s South African mines postponed to next year a decision on a possible strike over pay at the world’s biggest producer of the metal.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union will ask members to decide on a possible strike once they return in January from a two-week break, Jimmy Gama, its treasurer and spokesman, said today by phone. The AMCU got permission for a legal strike at the company, known as Amplats, two weeks ago after exhausting mediation procedures.

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 -- Amplats, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd (IMP) and Lonmin Plc (LMI) -- which mine most of their metal in South Africa. The union is demanding that basic monthly wages for the lowest-paid underground workers be more than doubles to 12,500 rand ($1,238). Amplats has offered 7 percent.

Mpumi Sithole, a spokeswoman for Johannesburg-based Amplats, wasn’t immediately able to comment when contacted by phone. The AMCU had considered calling a strike vote on Nov. 30 or Dec. 1, but was unable to arrange a venue, Gama said.

Amplats erased earlier gains of as much as 0.9 percent in Johannesburg trading after the union’s comments, falling 1.7 percent to 384.39 rand by 12:29 p.m. Platinum for immediate delivery was little changed at $1,384.46 an ounce after rising as much as 0.4 percent.

South Africa’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration on Nov. 13 gave the AMCU the right to call a strike at Amplats without its members risking dismissal.

Impala Platinum

Impala Platinum will meet with the AMCU on Dec. 12 in the latest effort to reach a wage settlement, Johan Theron, a spokesman for the company, said today by phone. The AMCU lowered its wage demand from the company by 31 percent to 8,668 rand on Nov. 12. The producer that day revised its offer for the lowest-paid below-surface workers to increases of 8.5 percent for the first year of a three-year deal. They currently earn 5,500 rand.

“The meeting is a last-ditch attempt to get a settlement before Christmas,” Theron said. Workers would be entitled to salary increase payments backdated to July when the previous wage arrangement lapsed, he said. “If we can’t get an agreement before Christmas, we won’t be able to make those payments.”

Impala’s operations close on Dec. 20 and re-open on Jan. 5, Theron said.

The AMCU and Lonmin will meet for mediation by the CCMA on Dec. 10, Gama said.

NUM members plan today to march to the offices of Northam Platinum Ltd. (NHM), a smaller producer, as a work stoppage over pay enters a fourth week. The NUM has been striking since Nov. 3 and has rejected wage increase offers of between 8 percent and 9 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andre Janse van Vuuren in Johannesburg at

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