S. African leader voices concern over violence during platinum strike

S. African leader voices concern over violence during platinum strike
# 05 March 2014 23:19 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday voiced concern over frequent violence during the on-going strikes at the platinum sector, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

"Once the workers were on strike, instead of striking and dealing with the issues, they armed themselves with dangerous weapons," Zuma said during a visit to the North West province where a strike has been dragging on for almost six weeks.

"We think we need to be very emphatic to everybody that there should be no strike, no protest with people armed with dangerous weapons, that's where we should stop it."

There have reports that non-striking mineworkers have been intimidated or attacked by striking workers.

Zuma also accused mining companies of exacerbating the tension by reneging on social labor plans aimed at improving the lives of their employees.

As Zuma spoke, the Anglo American Platinum announced that talks aimed at ending the strike have been suspended indefinitely.

The suspension would allow the stakeholders time to reflect the current offer, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) said in a statement.

The talks between the platinum sector and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have been on and off since Jan. 24, one day after AMCU members downed tools over wage demands at Amplats and two other platinum producers -- the Impala Platinum and Lonmin Platinum.

AMCU wanted basic salaries of 12,500 rand (about 1,136 U. S. dollars) a month, a demand rejected by the companies.

On Tuesday, the union revised its demand, agreeing to a gradual realization of the demand in a period of four years.

In its Wednesday statement, Amplats said it noted the revised demand.

"This revised wage demand translates into an average annual increase of 29 percent and remains unaffordable," the statement said. "The Company maintains that AMCU's revised offer remains significantly above inflation and a further increase is not sustainable."

The strike has dealt a heavy blow to the platinum sector. Since the strike began, Amplats has lost approximately 4,000 platinum ounces of daily production, translating into 100 million rand (about 9.2 million dollars) of revenue value per day, the company said.