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Optimism on new platinum strike talks

An agreement was reached to reopen wage negotiations in a bid to end the four-month strike.

FILE: Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa addresses hundreds of the union members during a march outside Impala Platinum's headquarters on 27 March 2014. Picture: Gis Nicolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As fresh wage talks in the platinum sector start this morning, mining companies say they have a renewed sense of commitment to end the four-month long wage strike.

An agreement was reached yesterday afternoon by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the mineral giants to re-enter wage negotiations under the mediation of the Labour Court after talks between CEOs and the union's leaders failed.

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

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

Speaking on behalf of all three mining houses, Lonmin's executive vice-president for human resources Abey Kgotle says they are hopeful the end is in sight.

"The sole purpose of this mediation process will be to try and assist the parties to arrive at a settlement of the dispute. We remain committed to ongoing dialogue with Amcu and other stakeholders to find a way to end the strike."

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

At the same time, 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.

FOOD PARCELS TO BE DISTRIBUTED

Relief organisations will today once again distribute aide to striking mineworkers in Rustenburg.

The Gift of the Givers has been delivering food and sanitation parcels and clothing to the workers and their families for the past few days their families.

Yesterday, the relief group handed out food parcels to thousands of striking mineworkers and their families at the Amplats platinum mine in Rustenburg.

Gift of the Givers spokesperson Emily Thomas says the relief group is working with the Marikana Support Campaign which helps them identify who the most needy people are in the community.

The situation on the platinum belt has been described as an unfolding human tragedy and this week, several non-profit groups, churches and even universities have visited picketing sites to donate food and clothing.

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

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