* All four trucker unions sign deal
* Three-week strike had caused fuel, cash shortages
* Rand firms after announcement
* Amplats says lost 67,000 oz to strike so far
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN, Oct 12 South African truck drivers
have signed a wage deal to end a three-week strike, the freight
employers group said on Friday, stopping a walk-out that has hit
deliveries of fuel, cash and consumer goods in Africa's largest
The deal eases some of the pressure on South Africa, where
since August almost 100,000 workers - including 75,000 in mining
- have downed tools in often violent and illegal strikes that
have undermined investor confidence and already shaky growth.
More than 20,000 truck drivers have been on a legal walk-out
since late September, demanding higher wages. At least one man
was killed and dozens of trucks were torched by demonstrators.
"The agreement has been signed by everyone. The strike is
off immediately," Penwell Lunga, chairman of the Road Freight
Employers Association, told Reuters.
He said workers agreed to wage increases of 10 percent from
March 2013, 8 percent the following year and 9 percent for 2015.
News of the wage deal relieved some of the pressure on the
rand. The currency, which tumbled to a 3-1/2 year low
on Monday on concerns about weeks of crippling strikes, hit its
highest level in a week immediately following the news.
The deal offers much needed relief after petrol stations
were experiencing delays of up to a day in getting fuel and some
had run dry.
Logistics group Imperial Holding, which has been
heavily hit by the strike, rose more than 3 percent.
Other affected companies included Super Group,
Grindrod, Barloworld and Bidvest.
Striking workers at Petra Diamonds mines in South
Africa have also agreed to return to work while talks with
management continue, the National Union of Mineworkers said.
Strikes are not unusual in South Africa, but the past two
months have been marred by extreme violence and illegal walkouts
outside the labour bargaining structures.
There are many mining disputes still unresolved.
Seven of Anglo American Platinum's (Amplats)
operations have been hit by wildcat strikes and the world's top
producer of the precious metal has so far dismissed 12,000
workers due to the unrest. Other firms have followed suit.
Amplats said it had lost 67,000 ounces of platinum output to
the labour unrest so far, resulting in revenue loss of around
1.1 billion rand ($126 million). The company is losing on
average 3,800 ounces for each day of the strike.
Attendance at its affected mines remained below 20 percent.
The platinum producer has issued force majeure notices to
its chrome clients, but said its ability to deliver platinum
group metals and base metals remained unaffected at this stage.
In the gold industry, miners rejected the employer's latest
wage offer on Thursday. Africa's top three bullion producers -
AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony
Gold - have now given them until Monday to reconsider.
In a production update, Gold Fields said it had lost 35,000
ounces of gold in the three months to end-September due to the
strikes at its KDC and Beatrix mines.
More than 50 people have been killed in labour-related
unrest in the last two months, including 34 shot dead by police
at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine on Aug. 16
in the deadliest security incident since the end of apartheid.
South Africa is home to 80 percent of known reserves of
platinum and the price of the precious metal has risen
more than 20 percent since the Marikana shootings.
State-owned power utility Eskom, which relies on
coal for 85 percent of its generation capacity, said the utility
was monitoring developments closely. Any strike in the coal
sector would have wider implications on the entire economy.
"We have seen some protest action happening at the coal
mines," Eskom's Chief Executive Brian Dames told a briefing.
Operations so far have not been affected, coal producers,
including BHP Billiton , Exxaro and
A government minister, which oversees Eskom, urged the
industry to address miners' concerns before they escalate into a
full-blown strike as seen elsewhere.
Outside mining, a union representing 190,000 government
workers has threatened a nationwide strike from next week.
Around 3,800 clothing workers have also downed tools over wages.