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Amcu, bosses agree to fresh wage talks

A formal agreement was reached to reopen wage negotiations in a bid to end the platinum strike.

FILE: Amcu's crippling strike in the platinum sector is in its fourth month. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and mining bosses have both welcomed the Labour Court's offer to mediate fresh talks between the parties.

A formal agreement was reached this afternoon to reopen wage negotiations in a bid to end the crippling four-month long impasse on the platinum belt.

The new talks are set to take place over the next three days behind closed doors.

Both platinum producers and Amcu say they're positive this new intervention can bring an end to the strike.

Around 70,000 members of the union have been on strike at Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum for 17 weeks, demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

Lonmin's executive vice-president for human resources Abey Kgotle says talks will be in the interests of all parties.

"We have agreed with Amcu to a mediation process that will be facilitated by the Labour Court and the sole purpose of this will be to try and assist the parties to arrive at a settlement."

Amcu's Jimmy Gama says the union is optimistic about Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker's intervention.

"We have agreed to engage as parties, voluntarily, without anyone being forced. We are optimistic and we are giving it a chance to see if we can come to a solution on this wage issue."

The intervention comes after numerous attempts by mining houses and union leadership failed to produce any results.

The issue of SMSes being sent by employers to encourage miners to return to work will have to take a back seat for now.

Amcu members applied for an urgent interdict to stop Lonmin and other producers from contacting members via SMS.

The union believes the messages are fuelling tensions between workers.

MINERS RECEIVE FOOD PARCELS

Earlier on Tuesday, the Gift of the Givers handed out food parcels to striking mineworkers and their families at the Amplats platinum mine in Rustenburg.

The relief group also handed out hot meals.

Striking Amcu members said while they're grateful for the relief aid and food parcels, they really want their salary demands to be met.

Amcu shaft steward Makhanya Siphamandla said workers were relieved to be receiving food parcels but remained focused on the goal of the strike.

Gift of the Givers spokesperson Emily Thomas said the situation on the platinum belt is becoming more and more desperate, and they will do what they can to help.

Yesterday, around 500 food parcels were distributed and today, around 700 were handed out.

Thomas said depending on the size of the family, the food parcels can last up to one week.

Some mineworkers started gathering from early this morning.

The relief group said it will distribute food parcels at other shafts soon.