Biggest Union at Implats Gets Permission to Strike Over Wages

The largest union at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd.’s South African mines got permission to strike after a mediator failed to resolve a deadlock over wages between the labor group and the world’s second-largest producer.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration yesterday issued a certificate of non-resolution over the dispute after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union rejected a pay-increase offer of 8 percent for the year through June, Implats spokesman Johan Theron said by phone from Johannesburg today.

“We’ve done our best to put a credible offer on the table,” he said. “Our priority now is to make sure the offer is communicated to the entire workforce.”

The AMCU usurped the National Union of Mineworkers in the past year as the biggest representative of employees at the world’s three largest platinum producers, which mine most of their metal in South Africa. The companies’ profit margins declined after prices fell and costs, including wages, increased at a faster rate than the pace of inflation, which was 6 percent in September. The AMCU is demanding basic monthly wages for underground workers of 12,500 rand ($1,281).

AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa confirmed that the union got the certificate, which allows its members to strike within 48 hours of giving the company notice, he said by phone.

Implats offered to raise pay by 7 percent in the second and third years of the proposed agreement, Theron said. This will increase the total monthly remuneration of entry-level underground workers to 10,756 rand by the end of the cycle, with the cash portion accounting for about 7,000 rand, he said.

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