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S.African union eases platinum miners’ wage demand

Published on 04/03/2014

A radical South African union representing platinum mineworkers now in the sixth week of a crippling strike said Tuesday it would agree to a minimum wage demand to be implemented over three years.

“We are not exactly reducing our demand, our move is meant to give the employers a breather,” said Joseph Mathunjwa, the leader of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

“The 12,500 rand ($1,125) can now be achieved over the three years, not at once,” Mathunjwa told journalists.

The revised offer is a first hint of compromise by the union since the beginning of government facilitated start-stop talks late January.

Top platinum producers, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin have all seen production crippled by the strike.

The union had previously vowed that it was determined to achieve its demand “however necessary”.

Mathunjwa said the offer was submitted to the employers through the mediator last week, and the union expects feedback from the companies soon.

“We don’t know how this offer has been received, for us it’s a way forward.”

Still recovering from a series of stoppages which have hit the sector since 2011, the companies have maintained that the union’s wage increase of up to 150 percent was unaffordable.

The demand by the union was at the centre of the 2012 deadly strike at Lonmin, when 34 mineworkers were killed by police on August 16,

The companies have offered staggered increases of seven to nine percent over each of the next three years.

On Thursday, the union will march on the seat of government to hand deliver a petition to President Jacob Zuma over what it calls government’s soft approach to the workers’ plight.

“Government is not helping to resolve the matter…we want to raise our concern about how things have been happening,” said Mathunjwa.