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Tough decisions lie ahead for platinum companies

The top three platinum companies have collectively lost over R20bn during the work stoppage.

Mineworkers going back at work at Lonmin's Rowland shaft in Marikana on 25 June 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Platinum producers say tough decisions will have to be taken now that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union ( Amcu)'s crippling strike in the sector has come to an end.

Thousands of mineworkers have been reporting for duty this morning at Impala Platinum, Lonmin and Anglo American Platinum.

The companies collectively lost over R20 billion during the work stoppage.

Amcu leadership and mine bosses on Tuesday signed a three-year settlement in Johannesburg yesterday after an a deal was reached between the parties on Monday.

The platinum mineworkers were welcomed back to their workplaces with handshakes from their supervisors this morning and are now clocking in.

Speaking on behalf of the producers, Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara says the companies need to ensure the workers are fit enough to work underground.

"The process of bringing all those employees from various areas and going through all medical certificates and inspecting our underground environments is a challenge we are going to embark on immediately."

Meanwhile, an Amcu member who is a team leader at Lonmin's Rowland shaft, says he's looking forward to going back underground.

"I struggled a lot but now I am happy to be back at work. We are all very proud of Amcu."

'DIGNIFIED' SETTLEMENT

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa has described the settlement as dignified.

"As a trade union, we believe this is a dignified settlement to this impasse and will be a pedestal towards a living wage in the sector."

Mathunjwa said it's now up to the companies to deal with administrative issues and resume production as soon as possible.

He said the protracted industrial action conclusively shows that workers are the true custodians of South Africa's economy.

"It has been a gruelling process that has yielded successful outcomes, transforming the sector to be worker-driven.

"We've improved trust during the wage negotiations and it's an ongoing process as trust must be earned."

Amcu members sing and dance at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg ahead of a briefing by union leader Joseph Mathunjwa on 23 June 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

He added although the deal was downplayed by platinum companies, it was a victory for workers.

Around 70,000 Amcu-affiliated mineworkers embarked on a work stoppage in January, demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

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

It was also mentioned by ratings agency Standard & Poor's as one of the reasons South Africa's credit rating was downgraded.

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