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SA’s Amcu demands R17,000 per worker in SA’s platinum mines

President of South Africa's Association of Mine workers and Construction Union (AMCU) Joseph Mathunjwa (C) sings before addressing the Lonmin strikers at the Wonderkop stadium in Nkaneng township outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg May 14, 2014. The president urged its members on Wednesday to remain united and strong in the face of efforts by the three major platinum companies to force miners to end a 16-week stoppage. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS CIVIL UNREST EMPLOYMENT) - RTR3P3NF

Citing increased prices in palladium and rhodium, and inflation, the union has upped its 2012 demand for R12,500 per worker.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) is demanding R17,000 a month per miner in the platinum sector, as wage talks with the biggest producers start.

Amcu, which has used R12,500/month as its rallying call since 2012 when it rose to prominence in the platinum industry, has adjusted its base demand to R17,000/month because of inflation, said the union’s president, Joseph Mathunjwa.

Amcu’s demands include provisions around housing, provident funds, transport, medical aids and other issues, which Mathunjwa said will amount to a total demand of R30,000 per worker. “This is a drop in the ocean compared to what CEOs earn per hour,” he said, adding that Amcu represents about 60,000 workers in the platinum wage talks.

Mathunjwa noted the strong increase in palladium and rhodium prices since 2017 at a media briefing ahead of the start of wage talks with Sibanye-Stillwater, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum, SA’s three largest platinum group metal producers.

“It’s high time the bosses share their hyper-profits with the workers who are toiling every day,” he said.

Singling out Sibanye and its CEO, Neal Froneman, after the futile five-month wage strike at the company’s gold division, Mathunjwa said Froneman had boasted about how the platinum division in the company was protecting the company from the gold strike.

Mathunjwa also noted the more than R3bn Sibanye raised during the gold strike, asking Froneman to use that to increase platinum miners’ salaries.

Sibanye has taken over Lonmin in a R4bn all-share deal. Amcu is by far the largest union at the Lonmin mines and fiercely opposed the takeover, contesting it every step of the way, going as far as appealing against the Competition Tribunal’s conditional approval of the transaction.

“Amcu’s opposition meant we delayed the transaction by 13 months,” Mathunjwa said, noting the action had saved thousands of workers’ positions and kept their salaries intact for that period. The opposition to the merger cost Amcu R3m, he said.

When the deal was unveiled in December 2017, Lonmin said it would have to cut 12,500 jobs over three years. The competition authorities put a six-month moratorium on job cuts once the takeover was completed.

Froneman has said the improved platinum group metals (PGM) prices since the deal was announced could mean there would be reduced job cuts and slower action around closing marginal Lonmin shafts.

Mathunjwa gave no further details of other demands Amcu, the largest union in the platinum sector, is making in wage talks. Business Day

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