S. Africa opposition slams govt over collapsed platinum talks

By Hassan Isilow, Monday, June 09, 2014

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's main opposition party on Monday criticized a decision by Minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramathodi to withdraw from negotiations aimed to ending a five-month platinum strike.

"The minister's decision to abandon these negotiations will undoubtedly compromise them, our economy, as well as the minister and his department's credibility in future," James Lorimer, the Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said in a statement.

The government stepped in late last month to try to break the deadlock in talks between mine owners and platinum workers to end their five-month strike.

But after several rounds of talks, the government pulled out of the negotiations on Monday.

The striking workers demand a basic salary of R12500 a month (rough $1200).

Workers rejected an offer by the platinum companies that would increase their remuneration to R12500 by July 2017.

The five-month strike has had a negative impact of the South African economy.

"Estimates suggest it has already cost workers R9.5 billion in lost wages and producers R21.5 billion in lost revenue," Lorimer said.

"It is weighing down the economy, and could end up bringing down other sectors with it," he added.

The opposition party recommended that government reconsider and reform its spending on mining royalties.

"The administration of royalty reinvestments in mining communities through an independent and capacitated agency would create a mutually-beneficial environment for both mining companies and their employees," Lorimer said.

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