JOHANNESBURG — The government of South Africa stopped mediation efforts in an attempt to halt a strike held by South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) against Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin. The strike in South Africa has been ongoing for five months and now threatens to send the economy into a recession.
This strike in South Africa is the longest strike in the country’s history. The strike ended productions in mines which produce around 40 percent of all the global platinum output and has pushed the economy of South Africa into its first contraction since the global economic crisis five years ago.
In January, around 70,000 AMCU members put down their tools at mines run cross the African country to demand a raise in their monthly salary. Since the beginning of the strike, 45 percent of the global supply of platinum has been affected, and poverty and violence has increased in the communities who live near the platinum mines.
“No agreement was reached today,” said Joseph Mathunjwa, the president of the AMCU, as he left the negotiations.” AMCU made many concessions. We actually moved twice to make employers move closer to us.”
Mathunjwa added that the union did not compromise its demand for a $1,200 monthly wage.
In previous talks, the mining companies offered a pay increase of up to 10 percent, which would raise the minimum pay package to $1,200 a month by July of 2017. This offer also included cash allowances for necessities and housing.
So far, all offers made by the mining companies and by a government mediating team have been rejected by the AMCU.
“The minister will no longer be involved,” said mining ministry spokesman Mahlodi Muofhe after negotiations ended without resolution. “The parties committed to continue to talk to each other. We don’t think that the parties have the appetite to continue with this impasse for much longer. There is no solution for now.”
The mining minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, stated over the weekend that the government would pull out of its mediating role if the two sides could not reach a deal by Monday.
Ramatlhodi added that the government could “take them to the river but not make them drink.”
The mining companies stated in a joint statement to the press that they would “review further options available to them,” which may include the closure of shafts — an action that could lead to thousands of mine workers being laid off.
“The collapse of talks means that the strike will continue,” said Mathunjwa.
So far the strike has cost the companies around $2 billion in revenue. Workers have lost around $945 million in wages and benefits.
Analysts fear that with the continuation of the strike, a recession may be in the future for the South African economy, what with a contraction in the first quarter and a second consecutive quarter of negative growth.
“The longer the strike goes on, the more likely shafts will close,” said Ramatihodi. “I suspect there will be some job losses. The situation is grave and quite serious.”