Three Biggest Platinum Producers at Risk of Simultaneous StrikesPaul Burkhardt
The world’s three largest platinum producers are at risk of simultaneous labor strikes as unions fail to reach an agreement over pay at Lonmin Plc, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Anglo American Platinum Ltd.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has one more meeting with Lonmin before a dispute can be declared, necessary before a legal strike, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said. At Impala, the union will listen to offers from the company after its members voted on Oct. 28 to strike.
“If they have something to share with us, we will listen,” Mathunjwa said in a telephone interview.
Labor action would add to a walkout planned for Nov. 3 by more than 7,000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers at Northam Platinum Ltd. The international price of the metal has risen about 5 percent in the past month, paring losses for the year after concerns about slowing demand in China and Europe.
The AMCU has also referred wage talks with Anglo American Platinum, or Amplats, to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, with no date so far set, Mpumi Sithole, a company spokeswoman, said by e-mail.
“It appears as though AMCU is attempting to move all of the negotiations to similar timing to perhaps to generate wider impact from an across the board strike,” Tyler Broda, an analyst at Nomura International Plc in London, said by e-mail.
The AMCU is seeking basic monthly wages for underground workers of 12,500 rand ($1,235) from the three largest South African producers. A strike “could happen jointly” with other platinum companies, Treasurer Jimmy Gama said on Oct. 30.
Lonmin isn’t commenting on progress in the negotiations, Sue Vey, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mailed reply to questions. Impala received formal notice of AMCU’s vote to strike and notice that they’re seeking more engagement, Johan Theron, a company spokesman, said by e-mail yesterday.
Northam’s Zondereinde division was served with a strike notice after its latest wage offer of 7 percent to 8 percent was rejected, the company said yesterday in a statement. The NUM demands an average increase of 61 percent, Northam said.