Militant S.Africa union snubs Lonmin "peace deal"

Thu Sep 6, 2012 2:46pm GMT

By Olivia Kumwenda

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's militant AMCU union refused to sign a "peace deal" with platinum company Lonmin on Thursday, undermining government-backed efforts to open pay talks and end a four-week strike scarred by deadly violence.

While Lonmin, the world's number three platinum producer, signed the accord with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and other labour groups in the early hours, representatives of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) declined to put their names to the agreement.

AMCU-affiliated miners at the Marikana platinum mine where police shot dead 34 striking rock-drill operators last month in the deadliest security incident since the end of apartheid said they were not interested in a deal that failed to include a basic wage hike to 12,500 rand a month - double what they now earn.

"I was there to talk about 12,500 rand, not some peace accord, so we did not sign any document," Molefi Phele, who represented striking workers, told Reuters Television.

Lonmin said it was open to talks with AMCU and striking workers on their wage demands - provided they returned to work by a Monday deadline - even though analysts say the company can ill afford such an increase.

The London-headquartered company said only 1.7 percent of workers reported for duty at its South African operations on Thursday, with miners saying they have been threatened with death if they went back to their jobs.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told reporters he did not think the labour stand-off at Lonmin would affect the growth of Africa's biggest economy in "any significant way."

The strike has so far cost Lonmin about $95 million in lost output at its operations about 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.   Continued...

Mineworkers take part in a march at Lonmin's Marikana mine in South Africa's North West Province, September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
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