Platinum Strike Union Says No Backing Down on Pay Demands

The union leading a strike at the world’s largest platinum mines said it won’t back down on demands that pay for some workers be doubled as members marched on Anglo American Platinum Ltd.’s (AMS) Johannesburg offices.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union members, who have been on strike for more than seven weeks, don’t want to return to their jobs, Joseph Mathunjwa, the group’s president, told protesting workers today.

“The wages that are paid by the company are too low and do not meet the living standards,” the union said in a memorandum handed to Vishnu Pillay, an executive at Anglo Platinum, the world’s largest producer of the metal.

More than 70,000 members of the AMCU have been on strike at Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) and Lonmin Plc (LMI) since Jan. 23 in support of the union’s demand for basic wages to be increased within three years to 12,500 rand ($1,163) a month, compared with current minimum pay of 5,000 rand to 6,000 rand. Employers have offered annual pay increases of as much as 9 percent.

“We stand firm on 12,500, we are not moving from that,” Mathunjwa said.

A state mediator suspended talks between the union and employers on March 5 because the parties remained far apart. The AMCU’s demands are unaffordable, the companies have said. The companies, the world’s three largest platinum producers, have lost 9 billion rand in revenue and workers have forfeited 4 billion rand in wages since the strike started, a website set up by the employers shows.

No further talks are scheduled, Johan Theron, a spokesman for Johannesburg-based Impala, said today in an e-mail.

“We’re communicating directly with our employees,” Theron said. “It is important that they understand our position.”

The AMCU remains willing to negotiate, Mathunjwa said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tshepiso Mokhema in Johannesburg at tmokhema1@bloomberg.net

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

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