Amcu miners reject latest offer

There is still has no end in sight to one of the longest strikes South Africa has ever seen.

Amcu mineworkers show their membership cards during their thousands-strong march to Lonmin’s headquarters in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, 3 April 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

MARIKANA - Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have rejected the latest wage offer from the world's top three platinum producers, extending a crippling 14-week stoppage.

Union president Joseph Mathunjwa shared the news after addressing a rally of workers near Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Amcu held similar rallies in recent days at Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum.

It now plans to meet this week with the companies to inform them in person of the rejection, Mathunjwa said.

Marathon wage talks collapsed last week, dashing hopes for an imminent end to possibly the longest strike ever in South Africa.

It's also the most costly mining strike, which has hit 40 percent of global platinum production and threatens growth in Africa's most advanced economy.

The companies say they are taking their offer directly to the workers via cellphone text messages and radio and newspaper spots in a bid to circumvent Amcu's leadership, setting the stage for a grinding showdown between capital and labour.

Their bet is that after three straight months with no pay, the will of workers to stay off the job has been sapped.

Initially, Amcu demanded an immediate doubling of the basic wage - net salary before allowances such as housing - for entry-level workers to R12,500 a month.

The union has since said it would accept annual increases that would reach this goal in three or four years' time.

The producers' latest offer, made last Thursday, was for wage rises of up to 10 percent and other increases that would take the minimum pay package - including the allowances - to R12,500 a month by July 2017.

Companies say they cannot afford any more given rising costs and depressed prices for the precious metal used for emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles.

Underlining this point is the muted price reaction to the stoppage despite the over 700,000 ounces of production lost to it so far - around 12 percent of global annual output.

Spot platinum is fetching around $1,412 an ounce, around 2.5 percent lower than it was on the eve of the strike.

Listen to The Money Show's interview with mining analyst Peter Major, who says the strike is senseless.