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Workers’ strike at South Africa’s Implats to continue

A strike at Impala Platinum, the world’s No. 2 producer of the precious metal, will continue and there is no scheduled meeting to resume negotiations between workers and the company, union officials said on Saturday.

Some 20,000 workers at Impala Platinum have been on strike since Monday at the company’s biggest mine in Rustenburg, demanding a 14 percent wage hike.

“The strike is going on as far as we are concerned,” said Eddie Majadibodu, the National Union of Mineworkers’ chief negotiator at Implats.

Majadibodu said the union was willing to resume talks. Company officials were not immediately available when Reuters contacted them.

“We are prepared to engage with the company … We wanted to talk on Wednesday but they refused to talk to us and instead took us to court … We think the ball is in their court now,” Majadibodu told Reuters.

He said strikes were ongoing at Rustenburg and the Marula mines in Limpopo while workers in Springs, east of Johannesburg, were talking about the possibility of joining in.

The strike at Implats widened on Friday and workers at Anglo Platinum rejected a pay offer, fuelling fears that a work stoppage in the industry was looming in South Africa, the world’s top producer of the precious metal.

South Africa produces four fifths of the world’s platinum. Anglo American Plc’s unit Angloplat alone supplies close to half of world platinum and Implats 25 percent.

The strike at Implats, where workers are demanding a 14 percent pay hike, has so far had a limited impact on South African financial markets because wage talks in most sectors, including power, gold and coal, have been settled.

The Rustenburg mine, where the work stoppage started, produces one million ounces of platinum a year.

Implats Chief Executive David Brown said on Thursday he could sack thousands of workers who had threatened to spread the strike to all its operations.

The company has said it will not bow to the union’s pay hike demands after reporting on Thursday that annual earnings had halved and costs rose by more than a third.

Industrial action is also affecting production at smaller producers Platmin Ltd. and Aquarius Platinum, which sacked striking workers.

Implats operates only half a day on Saturday, and there are no operations on Sunday.

Source: Reuters

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