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S.Africa government makes offer to end platinum strike

South Africa’s government sought to end a crippling four-month strike on Tuesday with a proposal to raise the wages of mineworkers.

As the country’s platinum producers continued to struggle to reach a deal with unions, local media reported that the mining ministry had suggested a 7.5 percent or 800 rand ($75, 55 euros) hike in monthly wages, backdated to 2013.

“We have taken our proposal to the union and the companies, but I cannot divulge its contents,” said ministry spokesman Mahlodi Muofhe.

The deal was reportedly put forward by a mediation team assembled by the new mines minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) was discussing the plan with the ministry, according to its treasurer Jimmy Gama.

The figure is roughly the same as that proposed by the world’s three biggest platinum firms, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin.

The firms were mulling the proposal, according to an industry spokeswoman.

“No fixed timelines have been agreed, but the parties are in daily communication and will convene further engagements at short notice when required to do so,” she told AFP.

But the proposed figure falls far short of demands from workers that the minimum monthly basic wage be more than doubled to 12,500 rand ($1,160, 855 euro) by 2017.

The government stepped in last week after several rounds of failed mediation talks since over 80,000 AMCU members downed tools on January 23.

The workers’ 12,500-rand wage demand was at the centre of the 2012 deadly strike at Lonmin, when police shot dead 34 mineworkers in one day.

The firms said last week that the strike — one of the longest in South Africa’s mining history — has cost them almost $2 billion in production revenue while workers have lost almost $840,000 in wages.