Sat, Mar 08, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Platinum miners call on South African president

AFP, JOHANNESBURG, South Africa

Thousands of striking platinum mineworkers on Thursday marched to the seat of the South African government to deliver their grievances to the office of South African President Jacob Zuma.

Leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), whose members stopped work about six weeks ago, accuse the South African government of colluding with platinum firms to try to break the strike.

AMCU secretary-general Jeff Mphahlele, one of the march leaders, said a memorandum was handed to a representative from Zuma’s office in Pretoria.

The union gave Zuma two weeks to respond to their demands.

“We had already anticipated that the president wouldn’t be there to receive us, but we are not too disappointed,” Mphahlele said.

On Wednesday, talks aimed at ending the strike at top global producers Anglo American Platinum Co (Amplats), Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd and Lonmin PLC fell apart, after the companies rejected a revised wage demand by the union.

AMCU had softened its stance, saying its demand of a minimum monthly wage of US$1,125 be spread over four years.

The union’s demand was at the center of the deadly strike at Lonmin, when police killed 34 mineworkers on Aug. 16, 2012.

South African government mediators said on Wednesday they had “decided to adjourn the process to give all parties an opportunity to reflect on their respective positions.”

The world’s biggest producer, Amplats, said it was losing 4,000 ounces of platinum a day due to the work stoppage, or 100 million South African rand (US$9.3 million).

The platinum industry has been hit by intermittent strikes over wages since 2011, in a country that contains about 80 percent of the world’s known platinum reserves.

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