Members of the main labor union at the world’s largest platinum producers may return to work in two days should they accept a proposal to end a five-month pay strike in South Africa.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which represents the more than 70,000 strikers, will present pay proposals made by Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS), Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) and Lonmin Plc (LMI) to workers today. Members will gather at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg northwest of Johannesburg, said Evans Ramokga, an official of the union at Amplats, as the biggest producer is known.
“By Wednesday, workers will be returning if they accept the offer,” Ramokga said by phone.
AMCU members have been on strike since Jan. 23 in support of a demand that basic pay be doubled to a minimum of 12,500 rand ($1,174) a month. Producers say they’ve lost 23.9 billion rand in sales and that workers have missed out on 10.6 billion rand in wages since the walkout began. South Africa’s economy contracted in the first quarter as the strike cut mining production by the most since 1967.
The producers two weeks ago agreed in principle to monthly pay increases of as much as 1,000 rand on current basic wages of about 5,000 rand to 6,000 rand. The union met with each of the companies on June 19 and June 20 to discuss conditions raised by workers after the proposals were presented to members.
“A breakthrough has been made,” AMCU Treasurer Jimmy Gama said by text message on June 20 after talks with Impala, the second-largest producer. “Come to Royal Bafokeng stadium on Monday for more details.” The venue hosted matches during the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa.
“Our meeting with AMCU has been constructive and we’re hopeful about a positive outcome in the very near future,” Mpumi Sithole, an Amplats spokeswoman, said the same day.
While workers accepted the pay proposal at previous mass meetings, they had conditions to their assent relating to issues including back pay, the length of the agreement, the reinstatement of some fired workers who had been fired and accommodation allowances, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said on June 12. The union was to call another mass meeting after the conditions were discussed with companies, Mathunjwa said.
Platinum for immediate delivery fell as much as 0.7 percent and was 0.5 percent lower at $1,449.25 an ounce by 8:16 a.m. in London. Palladium declined 0.6 percent to $816.75 an ounce.
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