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Major mine talks deadlock

Major mining companies in Rustenburg are locked in talks with unions to keep their heads above water.

Striking Lonmin workers discuss a wage increase offer in Marikana, North West, on 14 September 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - While President Jacob Zuma has warned wildcat strikes in the mining industry could wreck the economy, three major mining companies in Rustenburg are locked in talks with unions to try and keep operations running smoothly.

There's been tension in the North-West mining district over possible retrenchments, wage increases and union rivalry.

Talks between Lonmin and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have deadlocked and both parties will now have to present their cases to an independent arbitrator. AMCU wants majority union recognition and wants to push out other smaller unions, while Lonmin wants unions to work together in an inclusive and democratic way.

Meanwhile, Anglo Platinum American unions and government are trying to put a stop to potential retrenchment after an announcement that 6,000 jobs could be cut.

And operations at Lanxess Chrome Mine remain at a stand-still with workers demanding bonuses.

In all three cases strike action is expected if agreements aren't reached soon.

The president was not the only one to express concerns over ongoing industrial action in the mining sector.

On Thursday, Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus said industrial disputes would affect investor confidence, while high wage settlements would cost the country jobs and increase inflation.

"There is an urgent imperative for all parties - government, business, labour and civil society - to interact and address these issues and vulnerabilities at a national level. While the bank is prepared to play its part many of these challenges are beyond the role, scope and effectiveness of military policy."