Union Calls Dispute at Amplats Over Platinum Pay ‘Insult’

  • National Union of Mineworkers is 2nd-largest group at Amplats
  • Deadlock follows dispute declared by biggest labor group

The second-largest labor group at Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the world’s biggest producer of the metal, said it declared a wage dispute after an offer from the producer which it deemed an “insult.”

A 6.75 percent pay increase offer from Amplats, as the mining company is known, is below the 14.5 percent being sought by the National Union of Mineworkers, the union said in a statement Tuesday. The NUM, representing about a fifth of Amplats workers belonging to a union, “remains unshakable” on its demand, it said.

The dispute follows a deadlock in talks earlier this month between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the largest group representing platinum workers, and Amplats, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin Plc. The AMCU, which is wants a 47 percent increase for the lowest-paid employees, and Amplats Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith both said in May that they didn’t expect to talks to lead to any major supply disruptions.

"We’re still in a deadlock, but talking," AMCU spokesman Manzini Zungu said by phone. The union is talking directly with Amplats after declaring its dispute, Zungu said.

The AMCU led a five-month strike in 2014, the longest in South African history, which resulted in a wage agreement that ended in June. A dispute in talks may be referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration if no agreement is reached, and unions can then apply for the right to strike if negotiations remain deadlocked.

Amplats shares fell 2.6 percent in Johannesburg to close near a two-month low.

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