Striking South African union rejects Northam's revised offer

JOHANNESBURG Thu Nov 7, 2013 8:40am EST

File picture of members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) taking part in a strike in the central business district area of Johannesburg, August 27, 2013. REUTERS/Ihsaan Haffejee

File picture of members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) taking part in a strike in the central business district area of Johannesburg, August 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ihsaan Haffejee

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers has rejected a revised wage offer from Northam Platinum, the world's fifth largest platinum producer, extending a strike by over 7,000 workers, a spokesman said on Thursday.

The strike, now in its fifth day, involves the workforce at Northam's Zondereinde operation, which accounts for the vast majority of the company's annual production of 300,000 ounces.

"The new wage offer was rejected outright by our members today," said NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu after a mass meeting at the mine in the North West province.

NUM is demanding wage increases of between 22 and 43 percent and a rise in housing allowances of 69 percent.

Northam, which has already improved its initial offer twice, has offered increases of 7 to 8 percent in the first year, slightly above the current inflation rate of 6 percent.

NUM's hardline rival, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, is preparing for a possible strike against top producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin which could hit at least half of global output.

Northam is the only one of South Africa's four largest platinum producers where NUM still has majority membership after AMCU emerged as the dominant union on South Africa's platinum belt.

AMCU poached tens of thousands of disgruntled members from the once unrivalled NUM last year in a bloody turf war that killed dozens of people and sparked a wave of wildcat strikes.

(Reporting by Sherilee Lakmidas; Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa)

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