Anglo Platinum miners board an underground lift underground at Thembelani 1Shaft in Rusternburg in this May 2014 file photo  Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Anglo Platinum miners board an underground lift underground at Thembelani 1Shaft in Rustenburg in this May 2014 file photo Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

THE National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has declared a dispute with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) after wage negotiations deadlocked, the union said on Tuesday.

The NUM is asking for a 14.5% wage increase while Anglo Platinum has tabled a 6.75% offer.

"The NUM views the offer by Anglo Platinum … an insult to thousands of helpless employees, and the union has also observed the attitude by the company … refusing to close the apartheid wage gap," spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said.

In addition, "the NUM deplores Anglo Platinum’s dirty tactics and the arrogant attitude displayed during the wage negotiations", he said.

However, the NUM remained "unshakable" on its demands and would not accept Anglo’s 6.75% offer.

"Mine workers continue to risk their lives deep below the surface of the earth to produce platinum, but they still earn poverty wages," said Mammburu.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the majority union in the sector, declared a dispute with Amplats and Impala Platinum earlier in September.

Amcu is asking for a R12,500 basic salary for underground workers and a 15% salary hike for workers in higher earning brackets.

It remains unclear what the latest state of play is between Amcu and Lonmin, the other major platinum producer, in terms of the wage negotiations.

In terms of the talks with Amcu, Amplats is offering R600 or 6%, whichever is highest, while Lonmin is offering R750 or 6%, and Impala Platinum is offering an increase of R650 or 6% in the first year.

Unlike in the gold sector, in which there is a centralised bargaining process and the Chamber of Mines negotiates with unions on behalf of producers, there is no centralised bargaining in platinum.

This was one of the factors identified as a key driver of the Amcu-led wildcat strike on the platinum belt in August 2012, during which 34 mine workers were killed by police on August 16, while 10 other people were killed in the run-up to the August 16 shootings.