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Amcu, platinum firms reach ‘in principle’ agreement

Platinum producers say Amcu leaders are taking an offer to members which could end the strike.

An agreement ‘in principle’ has been reached in the five-month long platinum strike. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - There appears to be progress this afternoon in negotiations aimed at ending the country's longest and costliest ever mining strike.

Platinum producers Lonmin, Impala and Anglo American have announced that 'in principle' undertakings have been reached with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) leadership.

They say the agreement relates to wages and conditions of employment.

Amcu leaders will discuss the undertakings with its 70,000 striking members to seek a mandate to accept the offers.

Shop stewards from the union have reportedly told Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa to sign the deal.

If they succeed, the strike will finally come to an end.

The companies expect to receive feedback from Amcu by Friday.

A STRIKE OF EPIC PROPORTIONS

The strike began in January with the union's demand for a basic salary of R12,500 per month plus other allowances such as housing provisions.

Since then, companies have lost more than R22 billion while employees have forfeited about R10 billion in wages, according to a live tally on an industry website.

For the first time since the 2009 recession, South Africa suffered an economic contraction in the first quarter of 2014, with the strike widely blamed.

The Rustenburg area itself has been described as a ghost town, with the strike affecting even those who aren't involved.

Violence erupted last month with claims of intimidation against non-striking workers resurfacing.

At the same time, there were warnings that striking workers faced a medical crisis due to malnutrition and being unfit to take certain medication.

In recent weeks, new Minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramatlhodi entered negotiations but ended his role on Monday, saying the parties would have to solve the dispute between themselves.

However, while he even suggested changing labour law to help government solve stalled strikes more easily, Ramatlhodi had reportedly helped bring the sides closer together as mediator.

International markets are already jumping at the news, with the share price of Lonmin up by almost eight percent today. Impala and Anglo American stocks have also gained.

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