Amplats Striking Workers Return To Work

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VENTURES AFRICA – Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) sees an end to months’ long strikes as workers return to work accepting the latest deal reached between the employer and workers’ representatives.

Workers on Thursday announced an end to the strikes which have been on-going since September, finally accepting a deal put to them by the platinum producer. The details of the deal are not yet publically known.

However, spokesperson for the striking miners Evans Ramokga confirmed: “All the workers are returning to work,” reports Reuters.

The agreement is to be signed in a meeting between employers and representatives on Thursday, with Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole saying: “We have a feedback session with the strike committee. The offer that was presented will be signed this morning.”

The agreement brings to an end a two-month strike but also a protracted string of unsuccessful negotiation attempts between the parties. Most recently, Amplats awaited a return to work by its labour force on Monday, following an ultimatum issued by the producer demanding a resumption of duties or dismissals to commence.

According to that ultimatum, Amplats offered workers a revised one-off good-will payment of 4,500 rand ($504) – a revision on the previous lump-sum payment of 2,000 rand ($224) per worker. Workers on Monday steadfastly refused to entertain a return to work.

Nonetheless, talks continued over the pursuing days, and today a resolution appears to have been forged with workers resuming duties this morning, although it is unclear whether a further increase to payment has been agreed as of yet.

The return to operations brings to an end the eight weeks of production stoppages, which has cost the company more than 167,681 ounces of platinum since the start of the strikes. Amplats recently confirmed that it had experienced an output loss of 3,613 ounces per day – significantly contributing to the 12 per cent drop in platinum production this year in South Africa, as calculated by Johnson Matthey in a report Tuesday.

With workers demanding 22 percent wage increases in line with the notorious deals struck at miner Lonmin in October, other operators – including Amplats – have found their costs rocket, and significant pressure placed on the viability of production.