Platinum Miners Return in Massive Numbers as Strike EndsPaul Burkhardt
The world’s three largest platinum producers said workers are returning in large numbers the day after an agreement was signed with the South African union that went on strike for five months over pay.
Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin Plc will give details of attendance later today, Charmane Russell, a spokeswoman for the three producers at Russell & Associates, said by e-mail. “Our understanding though is that there is a massive turnout.”
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union completed three-year deals with the companies yesterday in Johannesburg. The walkout by at least 70,000 miners cost the companies 23.9 billion rand ($2.2 billion) in revenue and workers 10.6 billion rand in wages since Jan. 23, according to the producers.
“Our employees are returning back today and we have seen a huge number,” Mpumi Sithole, a spokeswoman for Amplats, as the largest producer is known, said in an e-mail. “Our primary focus today is to welcome our employees back, ensure that they receive a briefing so that we can commence with a program which addresses health and safety protocols and refresher training on general mine operations.”
Amplats employees will get back pay for the period from the effective date for the increase -- July 1 last year -- until the strike started on Jan. 23. They will also receive, food parcels, health supplements and help with their transport needs, Sithole said.
Impala, the second-largest producer, shut its mines completely after the strike began. Lonmin, the third-biggest, had attendance of less than 20 percent. Amplats recorded attendance of 20 percent to 50 percent at the shafts where AMCU members walked out, according to a website run by the producers.
“Workers will return this week, although production is unlikely to resume before September,” Mark Rosenberg, Africa director at Eurasia Group in New York, said in a note to clients yesterday.