Uncategorized 23.6.2014 06:00 am

Mine strike: The end of the end?

FILE PICTURE: Striking platinum miners gather at the Wonderkop Stadium in Marikana waiting to receive news on an ending strike proposed deal on June 12, 2014 in South Africa. PHOTO: AFP.

FILE PICTURE: Striking platinum miners gather at the Wonderkop Stadium in Marikana waiting to receive news on an ending strike proposed deal on June 12, 2014 in South Africa. PHOTO: AFP.

The mining sector is expecting an end to the five-month-long platinum strike will be decided today, with union leaders announcing a “breakthrough” in talks at the weekend.

But the gruelling strike has taken its toll, twisting nastily after last week’s turnaround when union leaders suddenly produced ‘additional” demands after the first breakthrough announcement.

So the sector will be holding its breath because any agreement must still be accepted by rank and file at a meeting at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium today.

Bloomberg reports Jimmy Gama, Treasurer of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which represents the more than 70 000 miners on strike, made the “breakthrough” announcement by SMS.

“Come to Royal Bafokeng stadium on Monday for more details,” he added.

Going into the weekend, things were already looking more optimistic, with Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole saying the miner was “hopeful” of an end to the longest strike in local mining.

Just days earlier, the big three producers had threatened to withdraw their offer to backdate an agreed increase to 2013.

The producers last week agreed in principle to monthly pay increases of as much as R1 000 on current basic wages of about R5 000 to R6 000.

Amcu has led the strike at Amplats, Implats and Lonmin in support of a demand that basic pay be doubled at entry level to R12 500 a month. Producers say they’ve lost R23.4bn in sales from the strike and workers missed out on R10.4bn in wages.

South Africa’s economy contracted in the first quarter as a result of the strike with mining output falling the most since 1967.

The union met with each of the employers last week to discuss conditions raised by the union over pay proposals presented to workers. Talks with Impala were “positive,” Gama said earlier.

“Our meeting with Amcu has been constructive and we’re hopeful about a positive outcome in the very near future,” Sithole of Amplats said.

Impala spokesperson Johan Theron said his company’s meeting with the union was still in progress “but by all accounts we’re making progress”. Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said he expected a deal to be concluded at the weekend, according to Johannesburg Eyewitness News website. Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

While workers accepted the pay proposal at mass meetings, they had conditions to their assent relating to issues including back pay, the length of the agreement, reinstatement of some workers who had been fired and accommodation allowances, Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa said last week.

The union was to call another mass meeting after the conditions were discussed with companies, Mathunjwa said.

Producers say it may take a few weeks, even a month, to return to full production. Eskom says it is gearing up for the full return, adding that demand from the platinum belt had halved to 400MW during the strike.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger says the return to full production will coincide with its scaling down of its planned maintenance, which will ease the uptake of pressure on the grid.

Platinum for immediate delivery fell 1.1% to $1 455.94 an ounce. Anglo American Platinum fell 0.4% to R490 by the close of trade in Johannesburg while Impala declined 0.6% to R113. Lonmin gained 0.4R to 248.4 pence in London.

 

 

 

 

 

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