The talks facilitated by the Minister of Mineral Resources between South African platinum producers and the Association of Mineworker and Construction Union (Amcu) have unfortunately been dissolved without an outcome.

An Inter-Governmental Technical Task Team, with representatives from the departments of Mineral Resources, Labour and National Treasury was set up by the Minister on 28 May 2014, in an effort to resolve the platinum wage strike, now in its 21st week.

During this process the producers report that they have sought to arrive at a fair and sustainable settlement that would preserve the future of the platinum industry and limit job losses in the country. “While the producers remain committed to a negotiated settlement, they will now review further options available to them,” Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin said in a joint statement.

The strike is the longest and costliest in South Africa’s history, which may be due to political agendas, says political analyst Professor Andre Duvenhage. “There has been a lot of politics, not outside South Africa, but within the country centred towards the left. Therefore the strike has never been about labour relations, it has been a class of political struggle against trade union federation Cosatu, which has been experiencing instability.”

To date, the producers have forfeited earnings of R21.7 billion, while employees have forfeited wages of around R9.6 billion. Amcu has persisted to demand a basic wage of R12 500 for its members, while the producers’ current offer would see workers earn a minimum cash remuneration – comprising basic wages and holiday, living-out and other allowances – of R12 500 a month by 2017.

“Amcu’s demand is unrealistic under the current financial environment, and the mines have also taken lots of punishment since the start of the strike on January 23,” Duvenhage said.

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