Northam Union Calls Off Strike at World’s Deepest Platinum MineAndre Janse van Vuuren
The biggest union at Northam Platinum Ltd.’s Zondereinde in South Africa, the world’s deepest mine, called off a strike that paralyzed the operation for a week.
Members of the National Union of Mineworkers voted to end the stoppage that started Jan. 13 over grievances that included Johannesburg-based Northam’s sick-leave and recruitment policies, Livhuwani Mammburu, a spokesman for the labor organization, said by phone. Employees will start to return for duty from Tuesday evening, he said.
“This struggle paid off as management finally came to the negotiating table,” Mammburu said in a separate statement. The parties committed to a process “which will focus on issues raised prior to and during the strike,” he said.
The deal between the NUM, as the union is known, and Northam will end the second strike at the company within a year after the parties signed a wage agreement in 2014 following a two-month stoppage. A five-month walkout at the South African operations of the world’s largest producers of platinum last year curtailed global production by 1.3 million ounces, according to Johnson Matthey Plc, which uses platinum and palladium to produce a third of all auto-catalysts.
Northam’s daily production losses due to the strike amounted to about 1,000 ounces of platinum group metals, the equivalent of about 11.5 million rand ($985,000) in revenue, the company said Jan. 16. The mine’s 6,600 permanent employees are forfeiting wages and benefits of about 2.4 million rand a day, it said. Zondereinde also has 2,100 contractors.