South African union reaches tentative wage deals with platinum trio

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has reached tentative wage deals with Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin, following almost two months of unfruitful negotiations.

AMCU has been demanding pay hikes of more than 50% for its lowest paid members, who earn the equivalent to $557 a month, and a 15% hike for its higher paid members.

Although it isn’t clear if these demands were watered down, the union’s president Joseph Mathunjwa told Reuters that the companies have secured what workers have been asking for.

The news agency also reports that Lonmin confirmed the agreement in principle, however, Anglo American said that “wage negotiations are progressing well” and it could “comment further in due course.”

The accords will be discussed with all of AMCU’s members on an October 30th meeting and the general assembly will decide whether to give the deals a final approval or not.

Producers are showing signs of relief, as this new development quashes the threat of a strike in South Africa's platinum sector, which is still recovering from an AMCU-led 20-week strike that took place in the first half of 2014.

Although the industry is still dealing with the aftermath of such action, production returned to pre-strike levels in 2015. This means that platinum prices gave up associated gains.

In the third quarter of 2016, prices rallied but now spot platinum is about 4.5% higher compared to last year, trading at below $930 an ounce.