Aquarius Platinum Signs 3-Year Deal With South African Union

Aquarius Platinum Ltd. reached an agreement on wages with the biggest union representing workers at its operations, the labor organization’s second deal in a week that avoided a strike.

Basic pay in some worker categories at the Perth, Australia-based company will increase by as much as 12 percent in the first year and 11 percent in the second and third years, South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers said in a statement today. Other employees will get 10 percent increases for each year. Aquarius rose the most in a month in Johannesburg trading.

The NUM on July 17 signed a three-year agreement with Royal Bafokeng Platinum Ltd. to raise basic salaries for almost 90 percent of the mining company’s staff by as much as 10.5 percent annually.

The deals follow South Africa’s longest and costliest mining strike, where more than 70,000 employees stopped work for five months at the world’s three biggest platinum producers. The walkout which ended on June 24, was settled with increases in basic pay of as much as 20 percent and caused a contraction in the economy of the country that accounts for more than two-thirds of the world’s mined platinum. South Africa’s inflation rate was 6.6 percent in May.

The Aquarius deal is effective from July 1 through June 30, 2017, the NUM said. “The expectations are always very high from the employees to compete with other platinum producers.”

Declining Influence

Minimum guaranteed monthly earnings -- which include basic pay, housing and shift allowance -- for an underground worker will be 7,214.24 rand ($680) a month in the first year, rising to 8,659.28 a month in the third year of the deal, according to the union.

Founded 32 years ago and once South Africa’s biggest labor union, the NUM has watched its influence decline as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union gained a grip on the platinum belt northwest of Johannesburg.

Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin Plc agreed with the AMCU to increases in basic wages for the lowest-paid workers of as much as 1,000 rand a month.

Aquarius said it reached agreements with the NUM and Solidarity, a union representing skilled workers. The labor groups negotiated in a “constructive and mature manner,” the company said.

Aquarius advanced 4.8 percent to 4.40 rand by the close in Johannesburg, the biggest gain since June 20.

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