South Africa miners return to work after longest platinum strike

Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:32pm EDT
 

Lonmin had set up huge canvas tents in a nearby stadium where miners underwent medical and other checks.

Calling for a "living wage" for its members, many of whom live in poverty, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) had demanded an immediate doubling of basic wages to 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month.

In the end, it settled for raises of up to around 20 percent annually.

The companies will find even that increase hard to absorb. Around half of the country's platinum shafts were losing money even before the strike.

"We await more detail on a recovery plan but clearly the company isn't out of the woods yet, with the health of employees, damage underground from prolonged inactivity, retraining, etc, etc, all issues to overcome," Investec said in a note about Lonmin.

Lonmin's share price is down more than 21 percent since Jan. 22, the eve of the strike. Implats has shed about 11 percent while Amplats is up around 9 percent over the same period.

IMPACT UNDERESTIMATED

Yet some analysts caution there could be further impact from the walkout.   Continued...

 
President of South Africa's Association of Mine workers and Construction Union (AMCU) Joseph Mathunjwa (C) sings before addressing the Lonmin strikers at the Wonderkop stadium in Nkaneng township outside the Lonmin mine in Rustenburg May 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko