Platinum producers in talks with labour court judge

The world’s three biggest platinum producers plan more talks with a labour court judge who has been mediating between the companies and the main union in South Africa to resolve a four-month strike over pay.

“The producers met with the judge yesterday [Monday] and expect to meet with her again later today,” Charmane Russell, a spokesperson for the three producers at Russell & Associates, said by email.

The latest phase of negotiations between Anglo American Platinum, or Amplats, Impala Platinum Holdings, Lonmin and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) began last week. Labour Court judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker is seeking to guide the talks toward an agreement that will end a strike that has paralysed mines since January 23.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa didn’t answer a phone call seeking comment.

The producers want to end the walkout by more than 70 000 miners that the companies say has cost them R19.8-billion in revenue and the workers R.8-billion in wages.

Ngoako Ramatlhodi, South Africa’s minister of mineral resources, wants to “find a way of facilitating an agreement” to end the strike, he told reporters in Pretoria on Tuesday after he was sworn into office. “The current system of labor relations has collapsed,” he said.

Amcu wants basic monthly pay, without benefits, to more than double to R12 500 in four years for entry-level underground employees. The producers say they can’t afford the demands.

Impala has extended leave for workers until June 2 and will review the situation again later this week, Johan Theron, a company spokesperson, said in an email. Impala has shut its South African mines, Amplats is running some operations in the country, while Lonmin on May 13 invited workers to return for duty.– Bloomberg

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Paul Burkhardt
Paul Burkhardt works from Johannesburg. Bloomberg reporter covering oil/gas, renewables, mining and unions in South Africa and sub-Saharan region. Retweets not endorsements. Paul Burkhardt has over 1431 followers on Twitter.

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