* Lonmin memo says security will be provided to miners
* Company aims for May 14 restart
* Managers have been visiting shafts to prepare
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, May 9 South African platinum
producer Lonmin is laying the groundwork to restart its
operations next week after a concerted effort to woo striking
miners back to work by taking its latest wage offer directly to
This points to a possible end game in the 15-week strike by
the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU),
the longest and most costly ever for South Africa's mines, which
has also hit Anglo American Platinum and Impala
Wage talks collapsed two weeks ago and the trio of companies
- the world's top producers of the precious metal - have been
trying to undermine AMCU's leadership with direct appeals to the
strikers, betting that they are keen to return after going so
long without pay.
"Our shop stewards are saying that Lonmin management has
been going around this week to all the shafts to prepare for the
start up on the 14th," an official with a rival union to AMCU
Lonmin has been asking its employees through a text messages
and other means to indicate if they want to accept the latest
offer and return to work and the company has said it should know
by Friday if it can go ahead with the May 14th start.
In an internal memo sent to its employees last week which
Reuters has seen, the company spelled out the steps to be taken
through the vote, providing an SMS number and an e-mail address
where they could send their responses.
The letter said employees had until Thursday, May 8 at 1600
local time (1400 GMT) to send their replies.
"If we have sufficient take-up, a reminder SMS will be sent
and logistics will be arranged in terms of transport and
security provisions around return to work," the memo said.
"The safety and security of our employees remains our number
one priority and additional security will be in place during and
immediately after this start-up period."
Security will be regarded as crucial as the companies say
AMCU is using violence and intimidation to keep its members in
line, allegations the union has denied.
A toll-free Help Line number is also provided for workers
who want to ask questions about the offer.
One problem acknowledged by industry sources is that many of
the striking miners will not be able to afford air time for
their cell phones and much of the labour force has also returned
to home villages far from the shafts in areas such as the
Eastern Cape province.
Implats said on Thursday it was conducting an SMS vote on
the offer late this 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 in basic salaries.
(Editing by Mark Potter)