Striking South African miners reject Amplats' offer to return

JOHANNESBURG Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:55am EST

Striking platinum miners march near the Anglo-American Platinum (AMPLATS) mine near Rustenburg in South Africa's North West Province, October 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Striking platinum miners march near the Anglo-American Platinum (AMPLATS) mine near Rustenburg in South Africa's North West Province, October 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - More than 30,000 striking workers at Anglo American Platinum's Rustenburg mines in South Africa rejected the firm's new return-to-work offer on Saturday, a labor leader said.

Amplats said on Friday it offered a 4,500 rand ($520) one-off payment and agreed to start wage talks ahead of the expiry of current agreements next year.

The offer would lapse if workers do not show up for work on Monday, Amplats said.

"Nobody is going back to work on Monday. The strike continues," labor leader Evans Ramokga said. "We are not happy with the conditions on the offer like the final warnings and threats of disciplinary actions for dismissed workers."

The company fired 12,000 workers who went on an illegal work stoppage in Rustenburg.

The cost of the wildcat action, in its second month, is mounting and Amplats said it had lost almost 168,000 ounces in platinum production, worth over $250 million at current spot prices.

The one-off allowance would cost the world top producer of the white metal 220 million rand.

But the company said it could not afford the wage increase demands being made. Workers want a salary increase of 4,500 per month, which would add about 2.6 billion rand to the company's wage bill, it said.

South Africa's gold and platinum sectors have been shaken by months of illegal and often violent strikes which have resulted in the deaths of around 50 people so far this year.

Most of the affected gold operations are back to work but Amplats, a unit of global mining giant Anglo American, is still struggling with crippling strikes at a time when the viability of its operations are being scrutinized.

($1 = 8.7373 South African rand)

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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