Union Marches to Impala Platinum With Revised Pay Demands

The union leading a two-month strike at the world’s biggest platinum producers gave companies an extra year to fully meet its pay demands as it handed over a memorandum that included the revised terms.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union said it wants pay for entry-level workers to more than double to 12,500 rand ($1,180) a month in four years, as thousands of its members marched to the head office of Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. in Johannesburg today. The union previously set a deadline of three years for the increase.

“We’re not returning to work until they commit to 12,500 in four years,” AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa told workers outside Impala’s offices. “We are simply saying to Impala, ‘let’s share the cake.’”

Impala, Anglo American Platinum Ltd., and Lonmin Plc, where the AMCU has been on strike since Jan. 23, have said the disruption to operations is causing permanent damage to their mines. The companies have lost more than 10.3 billion rand in revenue and workers 4.6 billion rand in earnings, according to the country’s Chamber of Mines.

“I’ve never heard of it officially or on paper -- today was the first time,” Impala spokesman Johan Theron, who accepted the AMCU document for the company, said of the extended timeline for the pay demand.

Efforts to resolve the standoff fell silent for weeks after talks facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration broke down March 5. The state mediator planned to meet with the AMCU and with employers after that, Nerine Kahn, a CCMA director, said March 25.

The demand of 12,500 rand in four years “was our last submission before the CCMA quit wage negotiations” earlier, Mathunjwa, who wore a black baseball cap bearing the AMCU logo, told reporters. He said the union would march next to Lonmin offices and to parliament in Cape Town.

More than 70,000 members of the AMCU have been strike in South Africa, which accounts for more than 70 percent of platinum production.