UPDATE 3-S.African footwear union to strike; platinum talks go on

Fri Jun 6, 2014 12:26pm EDT

* Footwear strike to add pressure on economy

* Five-month platinum mining union strike continues (Recasts with platinum wage talks)

By Zandi Shabalala

JOHANNESBURG, June 6 (Reuters) - A South African footwear manufacturing union said on Friday it would strike for higher pay from Monday, as the government continued to negotiate for an end to a five-month stoppage in the platinum sector that has battered the economy.

Thousands of members of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) are set to down tools after talks stalled with footwear manufacturers over wage increases.

Separately, government-brokered talks between the AMCU union and platinum producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin to end the industrial action in the sector are also set to resume on Monday.

"Deliberations are at a sensitive stage, and we all remain committed to the process," mining minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said in a statement.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) downed tools in January at Amplats, Implats and Lonmin in a strike that has heavily affected economic output in Africa's most advanced economy.

AMCU president rejected a government-brokered wage offer on Thursday, dashing hopes of an immediate end to a strike that has cut global platinum output by 40 percent.

Chief executive of Anglo American, Amplats' parent company, said on Thursday the dispute was the toughest ever in South Africa's platinum sector.

"After five months of strike I am not sure you can call it anything else (but a fight)," Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani said at an industry gathering in London.

"To be in a strike after five months, something is missing in the relationship, from a leadership perspective unpacking what we are missing is as important as standing our ground when challenged."

FOOTWEAR STRIKE

South Africa is nearing the beginning of its mid-year "strike season", in which unions negotiate with employers and sometimes strike when talks go sour.

South Africa's biggest union has said a wage strike in metals and engineering is "inevitable" from July. A labour court said on Friday a temporary injunction preventing a strike in the gold mining sector by AMCU remained in place.

Textiles sector union SACTWU wants a 10 percent rise in wages but employers are offering 7.75 percent. The union is joining a strike by a larger labour group in the footwear industry which began on Monday.

Around 164 companies will be affected by the strikes. Some supply international footwear giants like Puma and Adidas, SACTWU bargaining officer Vilna Membenkosi said.

The union also declared a wage dispute in the wool and mohair textiles sector, saying employers were offering a 6.5 percent raise against worker demands of 9.5 percent. The dispute had been referred to the industry's bargaining council.

Another union, Solidarity, also declared a dispute in the petroleum sector. "Protracted negotiations are in nobody's interest," Marius Croucamp, Solidarity's Head of the Chemical Industry, said in a statement.

Employers and unions in the sugar industry, however, reached a deal on Friday to end a strike in the sector, a government negotiator said. No further details were provided. (Additional reporting by Silvia Antonioli in London; Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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