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Metallix Refining - Platinum workers strike halts production in South Africa
Metallix RefiningThe Metallix ReportGold NewsPlatinum workers strike halts production in South Africa

Platinum workers strike halts production in South Africa

Posted by: on October 4, 2016

Recently, wage negotiations were halted between South Africa's second largest labor union and its two biggest platinum production and exploration companies. According to a Platt's report, the National Union of Mineworkers is involved in a dispute with Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum, which has caused over half of the workers for each company to go on strike. As South Africa is the world's biggest producer of platinum, this strike could have massive repercussions for the price of the precious metal.

The wage dispute
Members of the National Union of Mineworkers, which represents more than 50 percent of the workforce at Impala Platinum, have ended talks over a wage and benefits disagreement. Roughly 500 workers of Impala Platinum's 900 employees went on strike. There is no word yet on the impact of the work stoppage, but The Independent reported that negotiations are not close to being reached.

Currently, Impala Platinum is offering workers a 7.5 percent increase in wages and Anglo American Platinum workers are requesting a 6.75 spike, while the National Union of Mineworkers is demanding a 9.5 bump to salaries and benefits. The wage jump is particularly important for workers due to the 5.9 percent inflation rate in the country.

Impala Platinum also wants higher quality housing with shifts and standby stipends as well as an internal medical insurance plan. The union has not budged on these issues so far because it claimed they violate the freedom of choice provision in the labor union agreement.

The strike happens just as production goes up
Impala Platinum's production of the precious metal has jumped this year by 11 percent over the same time in 2015. However, its stock declined with the announcement of the strike by 4.1 percent after it doubled year-over-year for 2016.

This strike is significant because Anglo American had a similar strike last year, which caused a production loss of more than 1 million ounces.