Impala Union to Decide Next Week on Wage Strike After Deadlock

The largest union at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd.’s South African mines will decide whether to go on strike next week as mediators failed to resolve a wage dispute.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union will meet with members on Oct. 28 to consider industrial action at the second-largest producer of the metal, Treasurer Jimmy Gama said today by phone. The AMCU rejected a pay offer of 8 percent for the year through June, Implats spokesman Johan Theron said.

“Our members will tell us what to do,” Gama said.

The AMCU is demanding basic monthly wages for underground workers of 12,500 rand ($1,275) from the three largest South African platinum producers, where it has usurped the National Union of Mineworkers as the biggest labor representative. The companies’ profit margins have declined after prices fell and costs including wages increased faster than the 6 percent rate of inflation in September.

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.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration will also intervene in deadlocked wage talks between the AMCU and Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Gama said.

NUM Agreement

The world’s largest producer is unlikely to grant pay increases higher than the 8 percent that gold producers agreed to with the NUM in September, according to Mark Cutifani, chief executive officer of Anglo American Plc, which owns a 77 percent stake in Amplats.

“I’ve got no doubt that platinum is not going to be able to go any further than that,” Cutifani said in an interview yesterday. “Ultimately, if it goes too far that’s immediate job losses.”

Talks between unions and Lonmin Plc will continue next week, Gama said.

William Setelele, an NUM official, was killed on Oct. 17 close to Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in the North West province. Three men were charged yesterday in the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court for Setelele’s murder, provincial police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said by phone.

“We were all worried last week that we saw a shooting that was very disturbing,” Cutifani said. “One would hope that’s a single event.”

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