* AMCU dominant on platinum belt
* Figures show turf war rumbles on
* Separate wage deal puts pressure on AMCU
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, Dec 13 Upstart South African
miners' union AMCU has increased its membership at Anglo
American Platinum , the world's top producer of
the metal, by 50 percent in the last five months and now
represents 60 percent of shaft workers, the company said on
The new figures, supplied to Reuters from the company's
human resources department by spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole, come as
the hardline Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union
faces a fresh challenge to deliver after rival unions signed a
wage deal this week with the company.
AMCU emerged as the dominant union in South Africa's
platinum belt last year, after winning over tens of thousands of
members from the National Union of Mineworkers in a vicious turf
war that killed dozens of people and triggered a wave of wildcat
But the NUM has said it wants to recover its representation
in the platinum shafts and having closed the pay deal at Amplats
this week it leaves AMCU's rank and file without any increase at
a time when their co-workers will be taking home more pay,
back-dated to July and just in time for Christmas, without
having had to sacrifice any income in strike action.
"If you have a union that gets an increase for its members,
that's delivery. This will make members want to come back to
us," NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters. The deal does
not extend to AMCU members.
The pay increases range from 7.5 to 8.5 percent, far short
of the more than doubling in entry-level wages demanded by AMCU
under the populist battle cry of a "living wage" that was first
evoked decades ago by black South African miners.
AMCU activists based in the platinum town of Rustenburg said
on Friday they were determined to hold out for more.
"We are pushing for the big increase," Patrick Chakane, an
an AMCU member with Amplats, told Reuters by phone.
The union has permission from a government mediator to call
strikes at Amplats, Impala Platinum and Lonmin,
but is not expected to do so before the New Year.
A simultaneous stoppage at all three could bring over half
of global platinum production to a halt.
PLATINUM BATTLE GROUND
Meanwhile NUM activists have taken to wearing T-shirts with
slogans such as "Relax ... NUM is here to stay" as it lays the
groundwork to try and win back support.
But the latest Amplats' figures underscore just how tough it
will be to win back members although NUM sources have said its
own estimates differ from the company's, which shows it only has
20 percent representation at Amplats.
And the NUM wage agreement could prove a flashpoint if it
causes jealousies in the ranks. While the mayhem of 2012 has not
been repeated this year tensions remain high and several members
from both unions have been killed in recent months in
The NUM also says AMCU recruits with threats of violence and
AMCU has always denied these allegations and says it has
tapped into a deep vein of discontent based on the perception
that the NUM's leaders have grown too close to management.
The political stakes are also high as the NUM is a key union
ally of the ruling African National Congress, which faces
general elections next year.
President Jacob Zuma and his government have been widely
criticised for their handling of last year's mining crisis which
saw police shoot dead 34 striking miners in a single incident
near platinum producer Lonmin's Marikana mine.