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JOHANNESBURG May 10 World no. 3 platinum
producer Lonmin said it anticipated a "mass return to
work" on Wednesday at its strike-hit South African operations,
according to an internal company memo to employees.
"Managers and supervisors are returning from leave and ramp
plans are in place for a safe return," said the memo, dated
Friday and seen by Reuters.
"Lonmin is gearing up for a serious back to work offensive
on Monday 12 May in anticipation of a mass return to work on 14
May," the memo said.
Lonmin and larger rivals Anglo American Platinum
and Impala Platinum have been taking wage offers
directly to employees in a bid to end a 15-week strike after
talks with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union
The strike is the longest and costliest ever on South
Africa's mines, highlighting discontent among black miners who
feel they are still not reaping the benefits of the country's
mineral wealth two decades after apartheid ended.
It has hit 40 percent of global platinum supplies and dented
already sluggish growth in Africa's most advanced economy.
Lonmin had already said it was hoping to restart on May 14
if enough of its workers had indicated their willingness to
accept the offer by Thursday and non-AMCU union sources told
Reuters on Friday managers had been visiting shafts.
The memo said striking employees could still "indicate their
intention to accept the offer."
A showdown is looming on South Africa's restive platinum
belt as AMCU's leaders maintain that most of their roughly
70,000 striking members are not happy with the latest offer. Its
officials were not immediately available for comment on
But the companies, betting that the rank and file are keen
to return after more than three months without pay, have been
going directly to the employees through campaigns that have
included SMS surveys.
The Lonmin memo said a "security plan is in place" and that
buses would be provided to bring workers back.
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.
Implats said on Thursday it was also 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 Janet Lawrence)