SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Govt Offers to Mediate Talks in Bid to Avert Strike

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has offered the government's assistance in mediating talks between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and platinum mining companies.

Amcu workers are set to down tools at platinum mines and gold mines on Thursday over wage increases. The union is demanding an entry-level salary of R12 500 per month.

Motlanthe's spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, said on Wednesday that the Deputy President had offered the government's assistance in mediating talks during a meeting with Amcu on Tuesday.

The offer was also made to the mining companies.

"The Deputy President has made an offer to assist in talks, through [Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant]. Three of the platinum mines - Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum - have accepted the offer for mediation," Masebe said.

He said they were now waiting to see if Amcu would agree to join the talks. Once all parties had agreed to the mediation, Oliphant would convene the meeting, Masebe said.

Call for peaceful protest action

Earlier this week, the government urged all parties involved in the current wage dispute to engage in meaningful negotiations to resolve the dispute.

Acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) CEO Phumla Williams said: "Whilst workers have the right to protest, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic, we encourage the protest to be within the confines of the law.

"As South Africa remains a destination for investment and business opportunities, government urges the parties to resolve their disputes promptly in the interest of the country's economy."

Consolidate social dialogue: Motlanthe

Motlanthe, addressing the annual Nedlac Labour Conference at Kaameeldrift, East Pretoria on Wednesday, reiterated the need for labour, business and the government to consolidate social dialogue as their guiding principle.

"Social dialogue opens up space for all key players to make a contribution, bringing on board their unique insights even as it recognises existing mechanisms for resolving disputes," Motlanthe said.

He stressed that labour and business and the government sought to enter into mutual beneficial relations not because they had forsaken their parties and interests but because they needed each other.

"At the end of the day the country's people needs decent sustainable jobs, just as business needs prosperous enterprises and profits.

"When we speak of a better life for all, we are essentially referring not just to working conditions but to the overall lives of our people even outside of the working venue."

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