The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have reportedly accepted the latest offer made by strike-hit platinum producers – but with conditions.

The world’s largest platinum producers Impala Platinum (Implats), Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Lonmin last week announced they had reached a preliminary deal with the Amcu. The offer by mining companies would nearly double the current wage by 2017, raising it from R5 500 to R10 500 per month.

This falls short of the R12 500 basic wage that Amcu members have been holding out for over the past five months during South Africa’s longest and costliest strike. Therefore, more discussions on a final agreement to end the strike are expected this week.

Nevertheless, Mining Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who intervened in the latest round of talks, is upbeat that a deal is on the horizon. “Parties as we speak have got an in-principle agreement signed. The devil of course will still be in the final details,” he told Talk Radio 702 on Tuesday.

In terms of the details, Amcu has handed employers a list of demands over-and-above what was contained in the offer that Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa took to his members on Friday, including an inflation-linked increase to the living-out allowance and implementation over three rather than five years.

Charmane Russell, spokesperson for the platinum producers said the companies and Amcu leaders have been engaging. She confirmed there are some outstanding issues that will be addressed “in the next couple of days.”

“Obviously we have been in contact with them, being Amcu, over the weekend but we haven’t had a formal engagement which I’m sure we will have very soon,” Implats spokesperson Johan Theron said. “The only outstanding thing is to resolve the details, since the major matters appear to have been agreed to. Little details can often be a barrier to coming to an agreement but hopefully we will conclude negotiations as soon as possible.”

Russell said there is no time limit and nobody can say how long it will take to reach an agreement, but Ramatlhodi has emphasised the urgency of settling the matter as fears are rising that lost production in the sector will throw South Africa’s economy into a recession.

Since the 70 000 workers downed tools on January 23 2014, platinum producers striking and non-striking workers have so far lost R10.2 billion in earnings and the three companies have lost R22.9 billion in revenues.

 

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