* AMCU says deals still need final members’ approval
* Terms of the deals not disclosed
* AMCU lead 5-month platinum strike in 2014 (Recasts with AMCU president comments)
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 21 (Reuters) - South Africa’s AMCU union has reached wage deals in principle with platinum producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, subject to final approval from its members, the union’s president said on Friday.
This means a strike has almost certainly been averted in South Africa’s platinum sector, which is still recovering from a crippling five-month stoppage led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) in 2014.
“What our members have been demanding has been secured from the companies,” AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa told Reuters, without elaborating.
Asked if AMCU had an agreement in principle with the three producers, Mathunjwa responded: “Yes, subject to a mass meeting of general members to confirm it again.”
He said the meeting would be held on Oct. 30 and AMCU would disclose more details at a press briefing next week.
Known for its militancy and strident tone, AMCU had publicly sought wage increases of about 50 percent compared with offers in the single digits from the employers. It is not clear if AMCU watered down its demands to reach agreements.
Earlier AMCU said in a statement that it had received its “members’ mandate”, which is union speak for their agreement, on wages at the trio of companies while Lonmin confirmed it had reached an agreement “in principle” with the union.
However, Amplats said on Friday that “wage negotiations are progressing well” and it could “comment further in due course”.
Sibanye Gold will be relieved at a wage deal as it is set to take over Amplats’ labour-intensive Rustenburg operations, which is where the company’s AMCU membership is concentrated.
AMCU dislodged the once dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on South Africa’s platinum belt in a turf war that triggered violence in which dozens were killed. It is also trying to grow its membership in the gold sector.
Heading off a strike is rare good news in the mining sector in South Africa, where investors have been rattled by labour unrest, policy uncertainty and generally depressed prices.
Platinum prices rallied in the third quarter of this year but have since cooled and spot platinum is now only about 4.5 percent higher so far this year and below $930 an ounce.
Many shafts in South Africa remain loss-making at such levels and companies have said they cannot afford big pay hikes.
But a drought has fuelled food price inflation, which was running at 11.3 percent in September, and this in turn impacts wage demands as the average South African miner typically has several dependants he or she needs to feed. (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg and Nqobile Dludla in Johannesburg and Zandi Shabalala in Istanbul; Editing by Susan Thomas)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.