Platinum bosses have warned that irreparable damage is being caused by the ongoing platinum sector wage strike between Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), now in its ninth week.

“The extended strike on the platinum belt is unprecedented, and at a stage where some of its impacts are becoming irreparable. These impacts are not only on the companies, but also on employees, local businesses, suppliers and on communities,” CEOs Chris Griffith, Terence Goodlace and Ben Magara said in a statement.

“The financial cost – now close to R10 billion in revenue lost, and around R4.4 billion in earnings lost to employees – does not tell the full story. Mines and shafts are becoming unviable; people are hungry; children are not going to school; businesses are closing and crime in the platinum belt is increasing.”

No talks are currently underway between the platinum companies and Amcu, although an overwhelming number of workers have expressed the desire to return to work. “In respect of the 2013 wage negotiations, a settlement must be found for the sake of our companies, our employees, the sector as a whole and everyone adversely affected by the strike,” the statement said.

The mining houses ended with a warning that “The massive structural shift that AMCU appears to be seeking has consequences. Sadly, as the industry progresses towards greater mechanisation and higher skills levels, which are aligned with higher earnings and greater productivity, so the number of people employed in the industry will decrease. This has been evident in South Africa’s coal sector and also in the more mechanised platinum operations on the Eastern Limb.”

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