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S.African strikers, mine owners to meet on new pay offer

By AFP

Johannesburg (AFP) - South Africa's dominant platinum union and top global producers will meet on Tuesday to discuss a new wage offer to end a three month strike, an industry spokeswoman said.

The world's three biggest platinum firms made an offer last week that will increase the remuneration package of radical union AMCU's members to 12,500 rand a month by 2017.

"The producers clearly would like AMCU to take that offer to its members. A formal response is sought and discussions are continuing," said Charmane Russell, spokeswoman for Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin.

The meeting will see company CEOs, leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant come face to face.

Over 80,000 AMCU members launched a strike on January 23, demanding 12,500 rand ($1,185, 860 euro) in basic pay a month.

That does not meet the 12,500 rand basic wage demand that became the rallying cry with which the union won prominence on the platinum belt during violent labour unrest in 2012.

Entry-level workers currently earn around 5,000 rand ($475, 345 euro) basic pay a month.

The firms' latest offer will increase their total pay and benefits by 7.5 to 10 percent annually over the next three years.

The eventual 12,500-rand total includes living, holiday and other allowances, but AMCU wants that figure in basic pay alone.

Employers say that the union's demand would amount to an average increase in total remuneration of up to 30 percent a year over four years -- unaffordable to a struggling industry.

Union leaders were unreachable Tuesday to comment on the new offer.

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