Strike: Talks deadlock, Ramatlhodi out

Mine bosses have thanked the minister for his help but again failed to reach an agreement with Amcu.

FILE:Thousands of miners in Marikana gather to be addressed by Amcu leaders on 14 May,2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Despite hitting yet another stalemate in negotiations, platinum producers affected by the massive strike in the sector say they will now pursue new avenues following government's withdrawal from the discussions.

Minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramatlhodi spent his last day mediating the talks today, failing to secure a solution to the impasse.

About 70,000 workers belonging to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union ( Amcu) downed tools in January, demanding a basic wage of R12,500 per month.

Upon taking up his new position last month, Ramatlhodi vowed to end the mining sector's longest-ever strike, quickly establishing a task team and bringing together representatives from government, Amcu and the mining bosses.

He reportedly managed to narrow down the key issues but, over the weekend, announced that today would be his last at the negotiating table.

Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum have thanked the minister for his efforts and say they remain committed to a negotiated settlement.

However, today's talks ended once again in deadlock, according to Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa, dashing hopes for an end to industrial action that is pulling the economy towards recession.

Despite this, the department says its intervention will start to bear fruits in the near future despite the minister's withdrawal from the talks.

"The road traversed thus far is seemingly about to yield a result," says Ramatlhodi's spokesperson Mahlodi Muofhe.

"The minister is of the view that the parties have narrowed the issues. He's disengaging because he believes the environment is conducive."

But Stanlib mining analyst Kobus Nell says the situation is only getting worse.

"It's really getting to the point of a tragedy now. There are certainly a lot of people worse off than they were in January."

He says it's unclear how the strike will eventually be settled and whether anyone will truly benefit.