South Africa’s No. 1 Platinum Union Seeks Dispute Mediation

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s biggest platinum mining labor union has referred a wage dispute with both Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Sibanye Gold Ltd. to outside mediators.

The referral came after three months of negotiations broke down, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union President Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

South Africa’s No. 1 Platinum Union Seeks Dispute Mediation

AMCU said the wage dispute with the two platinum miners has been referred to the country’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The notice requires the CCMA, which can grant a certificate to hold a legal strike, to appoint a commissioner who will attempt to resolve the dispute within 30 days.

“It’s possible” to reach an agreement without a strike, Mathunjwa said. AMCU is still aiming for a monthly pay increase of 1,500 rand ($98), and won’t accept any settlement under 1,000 rand, Mathunjwa said.

AMCU said in August that Sibanye’s offer was lower than other producers and accused the company of trying to provoke a strike. Sibanye, which last week announced plans to cut 5,270 jobs at its troubled Marikana platinum mines, has said it made a “fair and reasonable offer.”

Talks with Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. will probably also end up at the CCMA, but the sides will likely reach a deal at that stage, Mathunjwa said in an interview.

The dominant union in South Africa’s platinum industry initially asked for a pay increase of as much as 48%, a demand that Sibanye has said would lead to mine closures. Three years ago, AMCU accepted an increase of 12.5% for the lowest paid platinum mine workers, after originally demanding a 47% increment.

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