(Clarifies respective positions of companies, union in paragraph 3)
* Implats, Amplats offer annual rises of 7.5-10 pct
* Strike has hit 40 pct of world platinum output
* Talks involved company, union bosses and minister
By Ed Stoddard and Tiisetso Motsoeneng
JOHANNESBURG, April 17 (Reuters) - South African platinum producers made a new wage offer on Thursday in a bid to end a three-month strike at their mines that has hit 40 percent of global output of the industrial metal.
Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s top producer, and Impala Platinum (Implats), the second-biggest, said in separate statements they had offered annual increases of 7.5 to 10 percent, compared with an earlier offer of as much as 9 percent per year.
The companies’ new wage increase offer would push the overall salary package of all their underground workers to 12,500 rand a month by 2017. On its side, the union has softened its original wage demand from 12,500 rand to be achieved immediately to the same amount over three to four years.
“This settlement offer has been made in the interests of bringing an end to the debilitating 12-week strike that has crippled the platinum sector and has brought untold hardship to employees, their families, communities and the companies,” Amplats said.
It was unclear whether Lonmin , the third-largest producer, has offered a similar deal.
Talks between the companies and leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) are scheduled to continue on Tuesday, following a four-day Easter holiday weekend.
Amplats, Implats and Lonmin have so far lost 13.5 billion rand ($1.3 billion) in revenue to the longest and most damaging South African mining strike in living memory.
The producers have consistently said they cannot afford the AMCU wage demands due to rising operating costs and depressed prices for the precious metal, which is used in catalytic converters in automobiles.
Thursday’s meeting took place between officials on both sides at the highest levels since the early days of the strike, including the chief executives of the three companies, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa and South African Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.
The strike has also been a headache for President Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress as a national election is just three weeks away.
AMCU on Tuesday asked the government and the public for funds to help sustain 70,000 striking members who have gone nearly three months without pay.
$1 = 10.4820 South African Rand Editing by Jane Baird