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Published: Wednesday December 11, 2013 MYT 12:25:02 AM
Updated: Wednesday December 11, 2013 MYT 12:25:35 AM

S.Africa's AMCU union wins permission to strike at Lonmin

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has been given permission by a government mediator to call a strike over wages against world No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin, the union said on Tuesday.

AMCU spokesman Jimmy Gama said the union would consult its members soon about a possible strike at Lonmin, and that miners there could down tools before Christmas or next year.

Analysts have said a strike is more likely in 2014 as workers will be extremely reluctant to embark on industrial action just ahead of the Christmas holidays, when shafts typically close or work at reduced volumes.

AMCU, known for its uncompromising stance in wage talks, already has permission to call strikes at the world's two top producers of the precious metal, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum (Implats).

A simultaneous strike at all three would hit at least half of global platinum production and could take out as much as two-thirds if Amplats' joint venture operations are impacted.

The union has cut its demands to Implats but is still after a minimum monthly wage of 12,500 rand ($1,200) for entry-level workers from Amplats and Lonmin - more than double current levels - under the populist battle cry of a "living wage."

AMCU emerged as the dominant union on South Africa's platinum belt last year after it wrested tens of thousands of disgruntled members from the once unrivaled National Union of Mineworkers in a vicious turf war in which dozens of people were killed.

Data on Tuesday showed South Africa's mining production rose 22 percent on a year-on-year basis in October, underscoring the impact of last year's often violent stoppages which also hit gold and iron ore operations.

($1 = 10.3605 South African rand)

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Ed Cropley)


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