S.African police deployed to platinum belt to protect miners - CNBC Africa

S.African police deployed to platinum belt to protect miners


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South African police deployed to platinum belt to protect miners

The miners are expected to start returning to work this week, a police spokesman said, as producers pushed ahead with plans to resume production.

Thulani Ngubane, the main police spokesman in the platinum mining town of Rustenburg northwest of Johannesburg, said police had set up park-and-ride facilities around the platinum mines to handle the arrivals.

(READ MORE: Two workers killed at Lonmin mine in S.Africa: union)

It is unclear how many workers will be coming back but the three big platinum firms say a majority of the 70,000 strikers they have contacted directly want to end the strike, the longest in South African mining history.

"We are prepared for any eventuality," Ngubane said, although he said it would be difficult to provide security for the miners in the shanty towns that ring the main mines. Four miners have been killed in the area over the last three days.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have been on strike at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin  since January pressing for higher wages but talks have gone nowhere.

Amcu's leaders maintain that most of their striking members are not happy with the latest offer of up to 10 percent.

(READ MORE: Mining companies accuse Amcu of stalling progress)

The companies say that would raise the overall minimum pay package to 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month by July 2017, including cash allowances for things like housing, but Amcu says this is not enough.

"We have remained so far apart. A deal with Amcu at this point in time seems completely out of the question," Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith told private radio station Talk Radio 702.

Griffith added that most Amplats miners wanted to return to work after being on strike for four months. The producers have been presenting wage offers directly to employees after Amcu rejected them.

Amcu had initially demanded an immediate increase to 12,500 rand in the basic wage, excluding allowances, but softened that in March to staggered increases that would amount to 12,500 rand within three or four years - still a third more than what the companies are offering in basic salaries.