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NUM denies responsibility for strike

Around 2,000 workers downed tools at Impala Platinum's Marula mine yesterday.

FILE: Impala Platinum's Marula mine in Limpopo. Picture: www.implats.co.za.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has denied responsibility for an unprotected wildcat strike at Impala Platinum (Implats)'s Marula mine in Limpopo.

Around 2,000 workers downed tools at the mine yesterday in apparent response to the deal secured by rival union the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in Rustenburg on 23 June.

The union says it hopes Implats will be able to resolve its issues with workers as the sudden work stoppage is affecting its members.

Num regional secretary William Mabapa says, "There are two agreements - One which was signed by the NUM and one which was signed by Amcu -they aren't the same."

At the same time, Implats says it's surprised by the sudden strike.

Implats spokesperson Johan Theron says each part of the wage deal has its own advantages.

"They are certainly better off when it comes to some of the allowances and other parts of the package but there is no doubt that the basic wage received by the Rustenburg guys will be slightly higher than the minimum wage."

The unexpected move comes not even two weeks after the country's longest and most expensive strike finally came to an end.

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

The strike cost the industry over R23,4 billion in lost earnings and brought the country to its knees, with an economic contraction in the first quarter of 2014 - the first since the 2009 recession.

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

South Africa accounts for 40 percent of global platinum output and the sector plays a significant role in the broader national economy.