Impala Platinum in Wage Talks Impasse With South African Union

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the second-largest producer of the metal, reached a deadlock in wage talks with the biggest union at its operations and will be looking for a mediated settlement to avoid a possible strike.

Impala Platinum, known as Implats, and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union arrived at an impasse after the union refused to accept a wage increase of 5.5 percent, company spokesman Johan Theron said today by phone.

“We’re still far apart,” Theron said of the talks, which started Aug. 19. “It allows us to get someone in to help. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

AMCU usurped the National Union of Mineworkers during the past year as the biggest representative of workers in South Africa’s platinum mining industry. Producers have seen profit margins shrink as prices declined and costs including wages grew faster than the rate of inflation. AMCU is demanding basic wages for underground workers of 12,500 rand ($1,250) per month.

The deadlock with Implats would probably be mediated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said by phone.

“It is another level of negotiations,” he said. “We cannot say how it will play out.”

The union will refer a similar deadlock over wages with Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the largest producer, to the CCMA as it strikes for a sixth day over the company’s plans to cut 3,300 jobs, Mathunjwa said.

Anglo American Platinum, known as Amplats, remained in talks with AMCU to solve the job cuts dispute, spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said in a text message.

The company is losing 3,100 ounces of platinum-group metals daily because of the strike at its operations in South Africa’s North West province, the company said in a statement yesterday.

Lonmin Plc started wage talks with AMCU and other unions yesterday, company spokeswoman Sue Vey said by phone. She declined to divulge details of Lonmin’s intended wage offer.

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