World’s Top Platinum Miners Brace for ‘Substantial’ Wage Demands – by Felix Njini (Bloomberg News – June 13, 2019)

South African platinum producers are preparing for significant wage demands as workers eye windfall earnings from a rally in metal prices.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union is meeting its members across the country’s so-called Platinum Belt this week, before presenting demands on Friday to seven producers, including Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Sibanye Gold Ltd., and Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Secretary General Jeffrey Mphahlele said.

The largest and most militant labor organization in the industry is aware that higher palladium and rhodium prices, plus a weaker rand, have boosted miners’ profits.

“Companies are performing well and we are confident they can accommodate our demands,” Mphahlele said. “Industry has been experiencing a boom in past years but nothing came to the workers.”

Mphahlele said AMCU will ask for more than the basic monthly pay of 12,500 rand ($846) that it’s been targeting for the past seven years. While the lowest-paid workers currently receive 10,800 rand, he said a new goal of 17,000 rand — mooted on the union’s social media platforms — could be adopted if AMCU’s membership wants it.

The demands will be “substantial,” said Dick Forslund, who has previously advised the union and made a presentation at an AMCU conference on June 4.

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