S. Africa platinum job cuts in question as wage deals to be signed
* AMCU union says companies committed to "no job cuts"
* Industry sources dispute this assertion by union boss
* Five-month platinum strike hurt S. Africa's economy
By Zandi Shabalala
JOHANNESBURG, June 24 (Reuters) - Differences over possible job cuts in South Africa's platinum mines emerged on Tuesday as mining union AMCU prepared to sign a three-year wage deal with the world's top producers of the metal to end a crippling five-month strike.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) on Monday declared an end to the longest and costliest strike in South African history.
AMCU said its 70,000 striking members would return to work at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin this week.
But signs of disagreement emerged over whether the wage deals covered the issue of future job cuts - known as 'retrenchments' in South Africa.
"The companies have committed to no retrenchments," AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa told Reuters. He added this commitment was going to last for the duration of the three-year deal to ensure productivity is not interrupted.
But an industry source told Reuters "the producers are absolutely not committed to that. It's not true."
Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey said she was not aware of any "no job cuts" clause in the wage deal.
The companies, which have lost over 24 billion rand ($2.26 billion) in revenue as a result of the strike, have said the stoppage makes restructuring and shedding of jobs inevitable.
Job cuts are a thorny issue in South Africa which has an unemployment rate of close to 25 percent and AMCU members in the past have gone on wildcat strikes to protest planned job losses at Amplats.
The exact timing of the signing of the agreements on Tuesday was not immediately clear but AMCU was due to hold a news conference in Johannesburg in the afternoon.
Under the populist battle cry of a "living wage", AMCU had initially demanded that basic wages of miners be more than doubled immediately to 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month.
In the end, its members settled for three-year deals that amount to increases of around 20 percent annually.