19 June 2014

South Africa: Amplats, Amcu Meetings Continue

Photo: Sapa
Armoured police patrol near Lonmin's Marikana mine (file photo).

Johannesburg — Meetings between Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) will continue on Thursday.

"We had a meeting yesterday [Wednesday], and we are having another one today," Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said.

Amcu and Amplats, Impala Platinum (Implats), and Lonmin reached separate "in principle" agreements earlier this month.

Amcu then submitted written responses to Lonmin, Amplats, and Implats, with new demands.

The companies said the additional demands would involve extra costs of around R1 billion in aggregate.

Spokeswoman for the producers Charmane Russell confirmed that the additional demands included a R3000 return-to-work payment for each striking worker, withdrawal of criminal charges against Amcu members arrested during the strike, and a moratorium on retrenchments.

Implats spokesman Johan Theron said his company had been communicating with Amcu, but had yet to hold a meeting with the union to discuss developments.

"We have been in telephonic contact, and communicating with them at the mine level. We haven't been able to sit across the table."

He said Implats had been holding board meetings over the past two days, but intended to meet Amcu soon.

"We are trying to meet with them as soon as possible, potentially later today [Thursday] or tomorrow."

Russell said the three mining companies had frequently met Amcu separately in the past, in addition to their joint meetings, and would continue to do so.

"While they share a common approach there are specific differences between companies and, ultimately, each company will finalise an individual settlement.

"The producers remain committed to finding an affordable, sustainable negotiated settlement," she said.

Lonmin and Amcu could not immediately be reached for comment.

Amcu members at Amplats, Implats, and Lonmin went on strike on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.

Talks facilitated by the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) stalled in March after the CCMA ruled that the parties were too far apart.

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi set up an inter-governmental task team last month in an attempt to break the deadlock. On June 9 the task team withdrew from the talks.

The following day Ramatlhodi denied he had abandoned the talks.

"The simple reason behind this is that I strongly believe we have done enough work over the past two weeks... for the parties to take the process forward and continue engaging on their own," he said at the time.

By Thursday, the five-month-old strike had cost the industry R23.2bn in lost earnings, while employees had forfeited wages of around R10.3bn, according to a website set up by the companies, www.platinumwagenegotiations.co.za.

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