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Amcu warns mining bosses

The union has warned the world's three biggest platinum producers not to underestimate its endurance.

Thousands of Amcu mineworkers march to Lonmin’s headquarters in Melrose Arch on 3 April. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has warned the world's three biggest platinum producers not to underestimate its endurance in its current wage strike.

Thousands of Amcu members yesterday marched to Lonmin's head office in Johannesburg where the union's president Joseph Mathunjwa addressed them for two hours on the state of the strike.

Around 80,000 thousand mineworkers have been on strike since January at Lonmin, Impala Platinum (Implats) and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) for a basic salary of R12,500.

Video: Joseph Mathunjwa addresses Amcu miners at the beginning of the strike in January.

But wage talks have deadlocked and it's unclear what will happen next.

A visibly angry Mathunjwa honoured the fallen miners who were shot dead by police in Marikana in August 2012 and called on them to guide his members in their strike.

Mathunjwa said Lonmin CEO Ben Magara promised workers a basic wage of R12,500 and the time had come for him to deliver.

"This was a promise made that informed our 2014 wage demand."

Amcu treasurer Jimmy Gama (L) with Lonmin CEO Ben Magara (R) at the mine company's Melrose Arch headquarters in Johannesburg. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

When asked about how long the strike could last, Mathunjwa was vague and dismissive.

"How long did it take us to achieve the 1994 democratic elections? Did it take us one or two weeks? It took us years and years and many people lost their lives. This is a struggle."

It's understood Amcu has set up a trust fund to sustain workers who are on strike with contributions from gold and coal miners as well as international donors.

Amcu mineworkers show their membership cards during their march to Lonmin's headquarters in Melrose Arch on 3 April. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

Mathunjwa concluded his address by saying a march to the British High Commission in Johannesburg would take place next week.

Senior managers at Lonmin said they'll seriously consider the memorandum, but maintain that a settlement can only be reached by a compromise in the negotiations.

Last week, union members delivered a memorandum to Implats at the company's Illovo headquarters in northern Johannesburg.

Meanwhile, Amplats on Wednesday signed a memorandum of grievances from Amcu, announcing that it was ready to re-enter talks with the union to bring an end to the impasse.

Mineworkers handed over a memorandum to mine bosses.

Amcu had asked Amplats to partner with the mining union to bring an end to what it called "exploitative slavery".

So far, the strike has seen mining companies lose R11 billion, while workers have lost around R5 billion in wages.

In the Marikana area, shop owners say they've had to close their doors as business in the North West town has been brought to a standstill.

Grocery stores are ordering limited supplies and cash loan facilities have shut down.

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