Strikes by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) at the mines of major platinum producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin entered their third month in late March 2013 with no signs of progress toward a settlement. The independent Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration was talking separately with the companies and the union. However, on March 25, the companies said in a joint statement that, while they remained open to discussions with AMCU within a reasonable settlement zone, no talks were under way. 

“The extended strike on the platinum belt is unprecedented and at a stage where some of its impacts are becoming irreparable,” the statement said. “These impacts are not only on the companies but also on employees, local businesses, suppliers and communities. 

“The financial cost—now close to R10 billion in revenue lost and around R4.4 billion in earnings lost to employees—does not tell the full story. Mines and shafts are becoming unviable; people are hungry; children are not going to school; businesses are closing; and crime in the platinum belt is increasing,” the statement said.

AMCU was demanding a R12,500/month basic minimum wage for its members to be reached over a four-year period based on annual increases of between 25% and 30%.The mining companies were offering increases of between 7% and 9.5%. (The Rand:Dollar currency exchange rate is currently about 10:1.)