Union defiant as South Africa strike talks resume

31st January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Leaders of a militant South African mining union vowed to strike for a month if necessary, as wage talks resumed Friday after the latest offer from firms was rejected.

"The strike can last the whole month," said Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union treasurer Jimmy Gama. "They will stay as long as they are not satisfied."

Talks between the union -- which has orchestrated a strike of around 80,000 miners, crippling the platinum sector -- and three major mine owners resumed on Friday, with a deal seemingly as far away as ever.

After a first round of talks, Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin-- the world's top three producers -- proposed wage increases of at least seven percent for each of the next three years.

That deal was forcefully rejected by AMCU members Thursday, a week after the strike began.

The union has called for a basic monthly minimum wage of 12,500 rand ($1,150), around double the current amount.

It is the same demand that spurred 2012 strikes, which resulted in the police shooting dead 34 miners on one day.

Mine bosses who have shut down operations have called for the union to consider the offer, saying its demand was "simply not feasible in the foreseeable future."

The strike is costing each mining firm as much as $9 million a day.

Gama indicated that a three year deal was possible, but the terms had to be right.

Companies are looking for a long-term agreement, in the hope of preventing what have become regular strikes.

A three year deal "would be considered" by miners, Gama said. "If they see there is something, I don't think they will refuse it."

"If you sign for three years you have to wait until the term of that, until it expires, to strike again."

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© 2014 AFP

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