Platinum firms start SMS campaign

THE end to the biggest platinum strike is drawing near after the precious metal's producers said they would take their latest wage offer directly to employees after wage talks to end the 13-week strike collapsed.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) leaders have signalled their displeasure with the offer from the world's top three producers, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin.

Amcu treasurer Jimmy Gama has been quoted as saying the union was consulting with its members about the latest offer through mass meetings that would last until tomorrow.

The producers' latest offer is for wage rises of up to 10% and other increases that would take the minimum pay package, including allowances, to R12500 a month by July 2017.

Amcu's leaders have said they were "arrogantly rebuffed by the platinum cartel" last week, so it seems unlikely their members will publicly accept the offer at meetings which are typically dominated by the union's shop stewards and most militant core.

But the producers are forcing the hand of Amcu and its president, Joseph Mathunjwa, by betting that most of the strikers have lost their resolve to strike as they face the third consecutive month without pay.

The SMS campaign is also targeting the labour sending areas, such as rural villages in the Eastern Cape, where much of the mine labour force hails from and where many of the strikers have returned to sit out the stoppage.

Impala spokesman Johan Theron said yesterday some workers had accepted the offer but "get intimidated and are scared" to voice an opinion.

"We have every right to talk to our employees as it is important to make them aware that we care and make it difficult for Amcu to mislead them."

There were no immediate plans to resume talks, he said. If more than 50% of the workers responded positively to the SMS, Impala would present the results to Amcu, Theron said. – Reuters, with additional reporting by Mpho Sibanyoni