(Adds details, background)
JOHANNESBURG May 8 Impala Platinum,
the world's second-largest producer of the metal said on
Thursday it would ask its striking South African employees to
vote by text message this week on its latest wage offer and
whether they wanted to return to work.
Spokesman Johan Theron said the vote would be conducted on
Thursday or Friday and would involve striking miners who had
indicated their willingness to take part.
The 15-week stoppage has also hurt rival producers Anglo
American Platinum and Lonmin, hitting 40
percent of global production of the precious metal used for
emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles.
Implats' move is the latest attempt by the three producers
to undermine the Association of Mineworkers and Construction
Union (AMCU) by taking a wage offer directly to miners after
talks collapsed two weeks ago.
Implats said last week that two-thirds of its striking
workers had already indicated by text message and phone calls
that they wanted to return but it was now asking for a formal
vote on the offer.
Lonmin has said that if enough of its miners indicate by
Friday that they want to come back, it would aim to restart its
operations next week.
The companies are offering increases of up to 10 percent
that they say would raise the overall minimum pay package to
12,500 rand ($1,200) a month by July 2017, including cash
allowances such as for housing.
AMCU had initially demanded an immediate increase to 12,500
rand in the basic wage, excluding allowances, but softened that
stance in March to staggered increases that would amount to
12,500 rand within three or four years - still a third more than
what the companies are offering as basic salaries.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; editing by David Dolan)