* Amplats 2011 output target is 2.6 mln oz
* Wage increases agreed of 8 to 10 percent
* Wage deals have typically exceeded inflation
(Recasts with background, latest share price)
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 31 South Africa's National
Union of Mineworkers said it had agreed on a two-year wage deal
with Anglo American Platinum , the world's top platinum
producer which accounts for about 40 percent of global supply.
Amplats shares closed over 2.5 percent higher on the day as
investors were relieved that strikes would not threaten a 2011
platinum output target of 2.6 million ounces, while the agreed
wage hikes came as no surprise.
The union (NUM) said on Wednesday that Amplats had agreed to
raise wages by between 8 and 10 percent, depending on worker
category. The union's demands had started at 20 percent --
around four times the inflation rate -- before coming down.
"Members of the NUM at Amplats have overwhelmingly accepted
a wage offer ... We are happy for our members," NUM said in a
statement on Wednesday.
The deal was a rare piece of good news on the labour front
as South Africa's annual "strike season" winds down.
A strike against the country's main gold producers in late
July and early August cost about $190 million in lost output,
while a week-long coal strike curbed exports to resource hungry
India and China.
Those settlements were for the most part in the same range
-- 7.5 to 10 percent -- well above the inflation rate of 5.3
percent, which has become standard practice but one that
companies say is not sustainable in the long run.
But the official inflation rate does not tell the whole
story for many miners, who are low-income or mid-income workers
with many dependents and spend much of their take-home pay on
food and fuel, the costs of which are rapidly rising.
On the other hand, economists warn that wages in Africa's
largest economy are generally higher than those found in its
main emerging market rivals, while its workforce is less
productive. This double whammy is likely to deter investors who
are already unnerved by talk of nationalisation.
Attention will now turn to ongoing talks with other platinum
producers including Impala Platinum , the world's
second-largest producer of the metal used for making the
catalytic converters that halt emissions from cars.
Negotiations with Northam Platinum and Lonmin
are expected to resume in September.
NUM also said on Wednesday its members at utility Eskom,
which generates virtually all of South Africa's power, would
strike if it went through with what the union said was a
"unilateral" attempt to impose a 7 percent wage hike.
It said it had "adopted a programme of action that includes
lunch-hour pickets and marches ... which will culminate in a
strike action against Eskom."
Eskom officials could not immediately be reached for
comment. Eskom has said in the past that its workers cannot
strike because it provides an essential service. Other unions
are also currently in wage talks with it.
(Additional reporting by Olivia Kumwenda, editing by Jane