Platinum strike deal to be delayed

A deal to end a 20-week strike by miners at the world’s largest platinum producers will be delayed after a labor union made fresh demands, according to two people familiar with the talks.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, representing more than 70,000 striking South African workers, is in negotiations with Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin Plc. The union’s latest set of requests are in response to a settlement proposed by the three producers.

While the companies are able to address some of the AMCU’s demands, others will require further talks, said one of the people, both of whom asked not to be named because the union’s response hasn’t been made public.

AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said June 12 the union, the largest at the three producers, agreed “in principle” with the companies’ proposals.

The platinum workers have been on strike since Jan. 23 demanding a doubling of basic pay. The companies say they have lost 23 billion rand ($2.1 billion) in revenue in what has become the longest and costliest mining strike in South African history. The country is the source of about 70 percent of the world’s mined platinum.

The union originally demanded that basic monthly salaries for the lowest-paid workers rise to 12,500 rand immediately. The producers’ latest offer includes an annual increase in the monthly wage of as much as 1,000 rand.

The union consulted with its members before submitting its response to the proposed settlement. Members have raised issues including the length of the labor agreement, back pay, increases in living-out allowances, and the reinstatement of jobs, Mathunjwa said June 12.

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