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S.Africa union ‘positive’ on fresh platinum strike talks

South Africa's platinum mine workers stage a protest after they rejected a fresh wage offer at a public meeting in Marikana on January 30, 2014/AFP

South Africa’s platinum mine workers stage a protest after they rejected a fresh wage offer at a public meeting in Marikana on January 30, 2014/AFP

JOHANNESBURG, May 21 – South African union AMCU said Wednesday it was optimistic a new round of mediation would resolve the longest strike in the country’s mining history.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) began three-day talks Wednesday with top global platinum producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin led by a labour court judge.

Earlier mediation efforts have failed to end the unprecedented four-month strike over wages, which AMCU treasurer Jimmy Gama said would top the agenda.

“We are positive,” Gama told AFP. “We hope that the new talks might lead to some kind of agreement with the employers.”

Around 80,000 AMCU members downed tools in the Rustenburg mining belt north west of Johannesburg on January 23.

AMCU has rejected the employers’ package of 12,500 rand ($1,200, 875 euros) per month, to be reached by July 2017.

It is demanding a basic salary of the same amount — more than double the current wage — which the three firms have dismissed as unaffordable.

Meanwhile violence and intimidation during the stoppages have left at least four mineworkers dead.

In a bid to break the strike, the firms bypassed the union by urging workers via text message to return to report for duty, a move that the union challenged in court.

Gama said the employers had agreed to stop the campaign during the mediation period.

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Destitute workers who have been without pay for months have been receiving food parcels from a local aid group while the strike drags on.

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