/ 20 May 2014

Amcu, platinum firms back in mediation talks

Mineworkers in the platinum belt have been on strike now for 17 weeks.
Mineworkers in the platinum belt have been on strike now for 17 weeks.

The world’s top three platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) agreed on Tuesday to court-mediated wage talks aimed at ending the ongoing mining strike. 

Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin said the mediation process would begin on Wednesday and last for up to three days. Judge Rabkin-Naicker will oversee the talks.

The platinum mining firms released a joint statement on Tuesday with chief executives Chris Griffith, Terence Goodlace and Ben Magara saying: “Reaching an affordable and sustainable agreement with Amcu would be in all of our interests, and that remains our preference. We remain committed to ongoing dialogue with Amcu and other stakeholders to find a way to end the strike. The companies welcome the intervention of the labour court.”

The Amcu strike has hit 40% of global platinum production and dragged on for 17 weeks, squeezing already sluggish growth in South Africa.

After initial talks collapsed in late April, producers took their latest offer directly to the more than 70 000 striking miners, largely by SMS. 

Amcu opposed the direct offer to its members and the labour court was scheduled to hear its complaints about the matter on Tuesday.

But the parties agreed to return to negotiations sponsored by the court, which will act as a mediator and issue no ruling on the strike.

“Other issues will be put on hold, giving the judge the opportunity to mediate to see if we cannot find a settlement,” Amcu treasurer Jimmy Gama said.

The strike has been turning violent, with four miners murdered last week as employees try to return to work on the restive North West platinum belt. – Reuters, additional reporting by Staff Reporter