Sun, Jun 15, 2014 - Page 6 News List

S Africa union OKs deal to end crippling strike

AFP, JOHANNESBURG

Hopes rose that a crippling strike plaguing South Africa may be close to an end, after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union on Friday said it had in principle agreed to a deal to end the nearly five-month walkout.

The stoppages have sunk the South African economy into its first contraction since the global crisis erupted five years ago and on Friday led two key credit ratings agencies to issue gloomy assessments of the country’s outlook.

Earlier, union leader Joseph Mathunjwa said that “in principle” his organization had agreed to the latest offer by employers, the SAPA news agency reported.

“There are still issues that we need to consult with the employer,” the agency quoted him as saying.

A local union leader had earlier said that the conditions include the rehiring of a group of workers who were fired in April after striking illegally.

Mathunjwa’s comments came a day after South Africa’s three main platinum producers — Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin — said that they had struck a deal in principle that union leaders would take to members for final approval.

The walkout began in January, when more than 70,000 workers went on strike for higher wages.

The new wage offer for lowest-paid workers includes a 1,000 rand (US$90) raise in monthly salary for two years, then 950 rand a month for the following three years, according to a statement from Impala Platinum.

This would practically double the current minimum wage of 5,500 to 10,500 rand by July 1, 2017, and effectively pre-empt further strikes for the next five years.

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