Platinum wage talks set to resume

Talks to end a strike over pay that has crippled production at the world's largest platinum mines will resume on Tuesday.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will meet negotiators for Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, Nerine Kahn, a director at the mediator, said by phone on Monday.

Talks between the three companies and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) were suspended on February 5 without reaching a settlement to end the strike. Amcu has called out more than 70 000 workers on a strike that has cost employers about $18-million a day since January 23, demanding that monthly wages for the lowest-paid underground workers be more than doubled to R12 500.

South Africa accounts for about 70% of global output of the metal, used in jewellery and catalytic converters for vehicles.

Employers offered increases of as much as 9% for workers who are currently paid between R5 000 and R6 000 a month, excluding benefits. South Africa's annual rate of inflation was 5.4% in December.

Left with no option
The CCMA last week proposed that employers raise pay to R12 500 per month within three years, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters in Johannesburg on February 8. 

"We were amazed that the employers rejected the CCMA recommendation and stuck to their 9%," Mathunjwa said. "This made discussions on a possible settlement difficult and left Amcu with no option but to continue with strike action."

Anglo American Platinum’s Union mine in the northern Limpopo province is calm after an Amcu official was shot there on February 7 in a clash between striking workers and police, Ronel Otto, a police spokeswoman, said on Mobday by phone, with no incidents reported during the weekend.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate said it has arrested an officer for the killing of the Amcu member, 32- year-old Shadow Ncedani. The officer allegedly "fired shots at the protesters with an R5-rifle, killing the deceased instantly on the scene," the directorate said in a statement posted on its website. The 47- year-old policeman is appearing in court on Monday on a charge of murder, it said.– Bloomberg

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Andre Janse
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