Fresh mine talks a ‘major breakthrough’

Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker persuaded both sides to focus on the bigger issue - resolving the strike.

FILE: Thousands of Amcu mineworkers marched to Lonmin’s headquarters in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, as they entered the 10th week of their strike for higher wages. 3 April 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - An unprecedented intervention by the Labour Court to mediate talks between mining companies and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union ( Amcu) has been hailed as a "major breakthrough".

The union approached the court on Tuesday to seek an interdict to prevent mining companies from communicating directly with workers.

The union believes the SMS messages are fuelling tensions between workers.

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

The fresh talks are set to take place over the few days behind closed doors.

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.

Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker persuaded both sides to focus on the bigger issue - resolving the strike.

Mining analysts and international investors will be closely monitoring wage negotiations between Amcu and platinum producers.

Mining analyst Gavin Hartford says he expects a positive outcome.

"When parties say yes, they will voluntarily and by free association get together to talk about resolving the strike. That is a very positive indication. Neither parties believe they can resolve this problem on their own."