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South Africa's AMCU rejects initial wage offers by Implats, Sibanye

South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has rejected Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s initial wage offers, while also accusing Sibanye of trying to provoke workers to call a strike.

Union President Joseph Mathunjwa told media at a briefing on Aug. 13 that its members had voted to reject the offers from the two companies. They had not yet voted on the offer by Anglo American Platinum Ltd., owned by Anglo American PLC, who the union is due to meet later in the week.

Mathunjwa said Amplats was the closest to the revised demand made by the union of a 1,500 South African rand annual increase for the lowest paid worker. AMCU had been calling for 17,000 rand a month for the lowest earning workers, who are presently earning a basic wage of 11,500 rand.

Last week, Mathunjwa told S&P Global Market Intelligence that he was disappointed with the attitude he had encountered from the large platinum producers, specifically Implats and Sibanye, which he accused of "dragging their feet" despite reporting strong financial results.

According to AMCU, Amplats is offering a 1,000-rand increase for year one and 800 rand increases for the following two years. Implats has offered an 800-rand increase per year.

Mathunjwa said Sibanye, operating as Sibanye Stillwater, made two separate offers to employees. At Sibanye's Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd. an increase of 700 rand was offered for the first two years and 800 rand for the third year. At Lonmin Mining Co. Ltd., recently bought by Sibanye, workers were offered a 300-rand increase for the first year, 350 rand for the second year and 400 rand for the third year.

He accused Sibanye of trying to provoke workers to strike, calling the offer a slap in the face for their employees. "They are provoking us and pushing us to the edge of the cliff, and then workers must respond," AMCU's president said.

When the last three-year wage deal was negotiated in 2014, AMCU members from Amplats, Implats and Lonmin embarked on a five-month strike, the longest in the history of South African mining. The second-longest strike, at Sibanye's gold mining operations, was also by AMCU.

Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted told S&P Global Market Intelligence on Aug. 7 that "AMCU's initial demands are unaffordable and will impact on the sustainability of the operations."

Implats is expected to meet AMCU this week for further talks.