| JOHANNESBURG, June 26
JOHANNESBURG, June 26 South Africa's hardline
miners union postponed talks with platinum producer Lonmin
, averting an imminent strike, to allow more time for the
government to reach a wider stability pact between labour and
the mining industry.
South Africa's deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, is
trying to get unions and companies across the mining industry to
sign up to a stability pact as wage talks kick off to bring an
end to unrest that has been rocking the sector.
Meanwhile, Lonmin, the world's third-largest platinum
producer, and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction
Union (AMCU) were to go to arbitration on Wednesday over their
failure to reach a recognition agreement.
"The company agreed to an AMCU request to delay the talks in
order to allow the process of engagement, led by the deputy
president ... to take its course," Lonmin said in a statement.
AMCU, whose members have twice this year staged brief
illegal strikes at Lonmin, had threatened to down tools there
again if the recognition issue was not resolved.
Postponing such action to allow the industry-wide talks to
take their course may indicate AMCU is trying to show it can be
But the union, known for its militancy, could still strike
at Lonmin in coming weeks if it fails to get its recognition
agreement. And even if this is clinched, very tough wage talks
AMCU said in a letter to Lonmin, dated Tuesday but obtained
by Reuters on Wednesday, "The strike action which has been
decided upon has been delayed at the request of the deputy
president ... We reserve the right to issue Lonmin with a notice
of commencement of strike action."
AMCU claims over 70 percent of Lonmin's workforce after
poaching members from the rival National Union of Mineworkers
(NUM) in a vicious turf war, which rumbles on.
The government is keen to ease tensions ahead of polls next
year and wants to avoid a repeat of 2012's labour unrest that
killed over 50 people, cost producers billions in lost output
and led to credit downgrades for Africa's largest economy.
A spokesman for the deputy president said the industry
stability pact was expected to be signed next week. There had
been expectations it would be finalised this week.
Lonmin's operations were at the epicentre of last year's
violence. Police shot dead 34 striking miners at its Marikana
mine in August, the deadliest security incident since the end of
Lonmin is still recovering from the effects of the wildcat
action in 2012 that shut its mines for several weeks.