Breakthrough in platinum strike on the cards

Amcu has planned a mass meeting with workers in Rustenburg this afternoon.

FILE: Hundreds of striking Amcu miners wait patiently as the sun sets to hear what the latest offer is from platinum producers on 12 June 2014. Picture: Reinart Torien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - An apparent breakthrough in the prolonged platinum strike will be revealed to thousands of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union ( Amcu) members at a planned mass meeting in Rustenburg today.

The union's leaders met with platinum producers last week to iron out the details of an agreement in principle that would see the miners return to work for a salary hike of around R1,000.

A deal was expected to be signed over the past few days but additional demands were tabled by the union.

The additional demands are understood to be related to a R3,000 once-off bonus payment, increases in living-out allowances and the implementation of the agreement over a three-year period.

Platinum producers labelled the demands as unaffordable.

Mahlodi Muofhe, spokesperson for the Department of Mineral Resources, has admitted the relationship between Amcu and the platinum companies has soured and neither party has the appetite for further talks.

"Both parties don't have the appetite to prolong this thing unnecessarily but obviously the relationship is adversarial and each party would want to ensure they get the best for their own constituency. We are optimistic an agreement will be reached soon."

Now, after another week of negotiations, Amcu's leadership says they've made a breakthrough on a possible settlement.

But the union says ending the strike and accepting the compromised agreement would be up to its members.

The decision is set to be taken by thousands of workers at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg this afternoon.

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

The action has halted mines that normally account for 40 percent of global platinum output and has hit the country's overall GDP, pushing it into contraction in the first quarter of the year.

The strike has cost the industry over R23.4 billion in lost earnings.

It has also 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.

Trade union Solidarity says it expects up to 10,000 workers to be affected by downsizing and restructuring on the platinum belt once Amcu's wage strike comes to an end.