Platinum industry can’t afford unrealistic wage demands - CNBC Africa

Platinum industry can’t afford unrealistic wage demands

Southern Africa

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Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum are the world's top three platinum producers. PHOTO: Getty Images

Ben Magara, chief executive officer (CEO) of [DATA LON:Lonmin], Chris Griffith, the CEO of [DATA AMS:Anglo American Platinum] and Terrence Goodlace, CEO of [DATA IMP:Impala Platinum] held firm on Wednesday that the industry could not afford unrealistic wage demands.

This was after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) announced its plans to strike over wages at the world's top three platinum producers.

“We note with dismay and regret the threatened strike action called by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at our operations following the deadlock reached last year in wage negotiations. We received yesterday formal notification from Amcu of the proposed strike which is expected to start with effect from Thursday, 23 January 2014,” the statement read.

“Amcu’s current wage increases are unaffordable and unrealistic. It is of great concern to the platinum companies that employees are being made promises by Amcu that cannot be delivered upon. Strike action will not only hurt the platinum industry but will be to the detriment of employees and their families, to communities, and to the country as a whole.”

The platinum companies are currently offering eight to 8.5 per cent for employees in the A and B-band bargaining unit, 7.5 per cent for C level employees and an increase in accommodation and other allowances.

“These offers compare favourably with increases in other sectors and are above the current inflation rate of 5.3 per cent. It is important to note that the platinum industry has also extended wage increases substantially above the inflation rate in preceding years, and currently pays amongst the highest entry level wages in the country,” the companies said.

South African finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, also warned on Monday that the industry could not afford more labour unrest.  

“The platinum industry needs to seriously get around the table,” Gordhan told state broadcaster, SAFM, in an interview.

“We can least afford another round of strikes that will act as a destabilisation to the platinum sector which has had increasing difficulties over the last 18 months.”

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