* Wildcat strike follows 5-month stoppage at other mines
* Rival unions have been in fighting in brutal turf war
(Recasts strike to end, union officials threatened)
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, July 7 South Africa's Impala
Platinum said on Monday wildcat strikers at its Marula
mine had indicated they would return to work on Tuesday and
press their demands through "formal channels".
But tensions remain high and the National Union of
Mineworkers (NUM), the dominant union at Marula, said its
leaders there had been given 48 hours to vacate their offices by
a "workers' committee" and faced death threats if they did not.
"A workers' committee has been set up there which is leading
the strike. Our leaders there have been told by unknown people
to vacate their offices in 48 hours or they will be killed," a
NUM source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
The wildcat strike by around 2,000 miners began on Friday.
Implats spokesman Johan Theron told Reuters the precise
demands remained unclear but NUM sources said the strikers
wanted to press for a deal similar to one signed by the rival
Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) in the
platinum sector two weeks ago.
Implats, the world's second largest producer of platinum,
and rivals Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin
are still reeling from the five-month AMCU stoppage, which ended
with AMCU's rank and file getting pay increases of about 20
percent in a three-year deal.
Marula's NUM-affiliated workforce signed a two-year wage
agreement late in 2013 for rises of up to 8 percent, still above
an inflation rate which is currently 6.6 percent.
NUM members at the mine have also said they faced
intimidation if they did not down tools during the Marula
stoppage - a pattern which in the past has often preceded AMCU
wresting majority membership at a mine.
AMCU emerged as the dominant union in South Africa's
platinum belt after poaching tens of thousands of disgruntled
NUM members in a vicious turf war in 2012 that killed dozens of
people and sparked a wave of wildcat strikes in the mining
sector that year.
Officials at AMCU were not immediately available for comment
about the unfolding situation at Marula.
Africa's most advanced economy has been roiled by labour
strife rooted in glaring income disparities and high levels of
poverty which still scar the country two decades after the end
of white apartheid rule.
In the engineering and steel sectors, over 200,000 workers
associated with the NUMSA metal workers' union downed tools in a
separate dispute last week, forcing General Motors to
suspend production at its main South African plant because of a
shortage of parts.
(Editing by David Evans)