S.Africa platinum strike "officially over" - Amcu president - CNBC Africa

S.Africa platinum strike "officially over" - Amcu president


by Reuters 0

The crippling five-month strike in the platinum sector was "officially over". PHOTO: Jay Caboz/Forbes Africa

The union’s roughly 70,000 striking members would begin returning to work on Wednesday.

(READ MORE: Striking South African platinum miners to decide on wage offer)

The announcement was made on Monday as thousands of miners roared their approval when leader Joseph Mathunjwa asked if they wanted to end the longest work stoppage in the country's history.

"Yes! Yes," the miners chorused as the union boss asked whether they wanted to accept the wage offers from producers.

"The strike is officially over," Mathunjwa then shouted back, to unrestrained jubilation from the tens of thousands of workers packed into Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium, one of the venues of the 2010 soccer World Cup.

The spot price of platinum fell 1 per cent, the rand firmed slightly against the dollar and the London-listed shares of number three producer [DATA LON:Lonmin Plc] rose nearly 5 per cent.

The Johannesburg stock market, where the other two producers [DATA AMS:Anglo American Platinum] and [DATA IMP:Impala Platinum] are listed, had closed by the time Mathunjwa finished his speech, but their shares closed up 1.6 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.

Mathunjwa said wage deals would be signed on Tuesday and workers would start reporting for duty the following day, ending industrial action that had started on Jan. 23 - five months and two days ago.

Amcu had been demanding that basic wages be more than doubled to 12,500 rand a month, but in the end they settled for three-year deals that amount to monthly increases of around 20 per cent, or 1,000 rand.

Marred at times by violence, the strike hit 40 per cent of global production of platinum, a precious metal used in jewellery and for emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles.

The stoppage also dragged Africa's most advanced economy into contraction in the first quarter and cost the companies almost 24 billion rand in lost revenue, according to an online tally run by the three firms.