Fresh demands stall platinum wage talks

Amcu has added additional pay demands to its 'in principle agreement'.

FILE: Around 70,000 Amcu members went on strike in January demanding an entry level salary of R12,500. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - More than a week after an agreement in principle was reached between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the world's top three platinum producers, the parties are still mulling over additional demands that have stalled the signing of the settlement.

Now, minority unions on the platinum belt have appealed to Amcu to drop the demands and settle the strike to prevent wide scale job cuts after miners return to work.

Last week, employers reached an agreement in principle with Amcu, and an end to the crippling strike seemed imminent.

But mine bosses said the union subsequently tabled additional demands that were not in the original agreement.

The additional demands are understood to be related to a once-off payment and increases in living out allowances.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has labelled the demands as unaffordable.

Gideon du Plessis, general secretary of Solidarity, says Amcu should immediately drop its new 'wish list'.

"It's clearly just an attempt from their side to save face and their reputation at the 11th hour after all the damage they have caused. We regard this as bad faith bargaining since they keep on moving the goal posts."

The National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) says the additional demands should not add to the wage bill of mines.

Nactu President Joseph Maqhekeni, says "I know Amcu has written to them so they can come to the table and iron out those issues but they shouldn't be adding more rands and cents. The agreement is almost there."

Meanwhile, Stanlib mining analyst Kobus Nel says international investors will be monitoring any precedents that may be set in the deal.

"Investors are watching this with a hawk's eye and looking whether there is an unwanted principle set in this whole process and that can just knock confidence and capital flow."

Around 70,000 Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Amplats went on strike in January demanding an entry level salary of R12,500.

The strike has already had a negative impact on the country's economy and investor confidence and has been mentioned by ratings agency Standard & Poor's as one of the reasons South Africa's credit rating was downgraded.

South Africa is home to 80 percent of the world's known platinum reserves.

Meanwhile, the world's top three platinum companies said yesterday that there has been a significant upsurge in the number of people returning to work on the platinum belt.