South Africa's AMCU union, mediator talks postponed

Reuters , Friday 14 Feb 2014

South African president Jacob Zuma, delivers the South African State of the Nation address in Parliament at Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Talks between South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and a state mediator about a strike over wages in the platinum sector have been postponed to next week, the parties said on Friday.

The mediator was scheduled to meet AMCU officials on Friday but the union said it was organising a funeral of a steward who was killed in a clash with police at an Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mine last week.

"We will be available next week," AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa told eNCA television.

The state mediator said the meeting had been postponed to Monday. It met producers separately on Thursday.

Nerine Kahn, director of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration said the mediation process was proceeding gradually.

"The pace of such processes cannot be hurried if one wishes to achieve progressive social dialogue and lasting solutions," Kahn said in a statement.

Members of AMCU downed tools three weeks ago at Amplats, Impala Platinum and Lonmin after wage talks failed. Hitting over 40 percent of global output of the precious metal, the strike is stoking tensions on South Africa's platinum belt.

President Jacob Zuma said in his annual state of the nation address to parliament on Thursday that Africa's largest economy could not afford more social unrest in the mining sector.

The stoppages are costing the country an estimated $36 million a day and are an unwelcome distraction for President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress three months before general elections.

AMCU wants basic pay to more than double to 12,500 rand ($1,100) a month, which companies say they can ill afford as they grapple with soaring costs and depressed global demand for the metal used for emissions-capping catalytic converters in vehicles.

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