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South African Mines May Move to Centralized Labor Talks Over Pay

South Africa’s government agreed with gold and platinum mining companies to create a system to centralize negotiations with unions on labor issues after 44 people were killed in clashes at a Lonmin Plc mine.

The Chamber of Mines, executives from mining companies, Mines Minister Susan Shabangu and Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant met today, Shabangu’s ministry said today in an e-mailed statement. The system will formalize talks between employers and employees, the Pretoria-based ministry said.

“The current status quo wherein each company negotiates individually has created opportunity for non-recognized labor structures to make demands outside the agreed and recognized forums,” the ministry said.

President Jacob Zuma named a three-person panel to investigate the deaths of miners, police and security guards at Lonmin’s Marikana mine this month. The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the nation’s largest trade federation, and Johannesburg-based Lonmin have said that a splinter union sparked a protest among rock drillers at the platinum mine.

Cosatu, as the trade group is known, has said that it will not allow member National Union of Mineworkers to lose influence because of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has been recruiting its members.

Lonmin has declined 45 percent in the past year to 640 pence by the close in London yesterday. The company’s eastern shafts were operating today with a 57 percent attendance rate from workers, Lonmin said in a statement today. The rest of its mines in the area were shut for a scheduled “off-weekend,” while talks continue to resolve the situation, it said.

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