South Africa’s five-month platinum strike ends

By bne IntelliNews June 24, 2014

The five-month strike at South Africa’s major platinum mines that weakened the country’s economic performance and led to sovereign rating downgrades has finally ended, as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) accepted platinum producers’ wage offer on Monday (June 23).

Local media reported that thousands of Amcu members, who gathered at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Monday, shouted "yes", when Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa asked them whether they wanted to accept the wage offers from producers. After that, Mathunjwa said that wage agreements will be signed on Tuesday (June 24) and miners will go back to work on Wednesday (June 25).

The strike, which turned into the longest in South Africa’s history, started on January 23, with Amcu demanding more than doubling of entry level wages to ZAR 12,500 (USD 1,180) a month. However, it reached an agreement for an about 20% increase in monthly wages for the coming three years.

The industrial action hit the world’s three biggest platinum miners – Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats), and Lonmin. It led to a 25% contraction in South Africa’s mining output, and contributed to a 0.6% q/q GDP decline in Q1 2014. The country’s platinum production normally accounts for some 40% of the global output.

It remains to be seen how long it will take platinum miners to restore normal production operations.

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