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South African Union Rejects Northam Platinum Wage Offer

South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers said members rejected a revised pay proposal at Northam Platinum Ltd., continuing a strike that started Nov. 3.

“We will request the intervention of the board,” Ecliff Tantsi, the union’s negotiator at Northam, said by phone after a mass meeting with members at the company’s Zondereinde mine in the northern Limpopo province. “We’re planning a demonstration at the head office next week.”

The NUM served a strike notice last week on Zondereinde, which has the world’s deepest platinum mine, after the union rejected an earlier increase of 7 percent to 8 percent, the metals producer said. The union, which has more than 7,000 members at Northam, is demanding an average raise of 61 percent, it said. South Africa has the biggest known platinum reserves.

“Management at Zondereinde has indicated that it is willing to have further discussions in an attempt to resolve the current impasse,” Northam said in an e-mailed statement today. “This is the third time the company has improved its offer. To date, the NUM has not moved on its demands.”

The latest two-year offer includes increases of as much as 9 percent, or the inflation rate plus 1 percentage point for seven categories of employees, whichever is higher in the second year, Northam said. The company is proposing an 8 percent increase for the living allowance. South Africa’s annual inflation rate was 6 percent in September. The NUM opposes any multi-year agreement.

Zondereinde produced 290,675 ounces of metals in concentrate in the year ended June 30, Northam said on Aug. 15.

The shares rose for a third day, climbing 0.5 percent to 42.68 rand by the close in Johannesburg.

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