S.Africa's Implats says most miners want to return to work

by Reuters
Friday, 2 May 2014 07:33 GMT

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JOHANNESBURG, May 2 (Reuters) - South African platinum producer Impala Platinum said on Friday that two-thirds of its striking workforce had indicated by text messages and phone calls that they wanted to accept the company's latest wage offer and end a 14-week strike.

Implats spokesman Johan Theron told Reuters that workers who were unable to send texts because they have no money for air time were making use of telephones at mine recruitment offices.

"We will have a totally clear picture next week," he said.

The strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has also hit Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin, taking out 40 percent of global production of the precious metal.

Asked for response to Implats' claim, AMCU General Secretary Jeffrey Mphahlele declined to comment.

The trio of companies last week said they would take their latest wage offer directly to the roughly 70,000 striking miners after wage talks collapsed, setting the stage for a dramatic showdown between capital and labour on the platinum belt.

Initially AMCU demanded an immediate increase of the basic wage - net salary before allowances such as housing - for entry-level workers to 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month, well over double current levels. It has since said it would accept annual increases that would reach this goal in three or four years.

The producers' latest offer is for wage rises of up to 10 percent and other increases that would take the minimum pay package - the basic wage including the allowances - to 12,500 rand a month by July 2017. (Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Joe Brock)

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