JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Shares of world No. 3 platinum producer Lonmin (LONJ.J) rose 3.5 percent on Monday on prospects for an end to a bloody three-week strike that has paralysed production at its operations in South Africa, where 34 striking miners were shot dead by police last month.
Labour minister Mildred Oliphant, part of a government committee trying to broker an end to disputes at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, said management and workers had agreed in principle to sign a two-year wage agreement.
The minister said a deal depended on miners returning to work.
However, unions involved in the talks said a return to work was by no means certain, with 3,000 rock-drill operators and other striking miners holding out for a hefty rise in base pay.
“I don’t share the same optimism. The workers have made it clear that they will not go back to work until such time that their wage demands are met,” said Gideon du Plessis of the Solidarity trade union, which is involved talks with government and other unions to end the standoff.
The Lonmin strike stems from a turf war that has flared across the platinum sector this year between the dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the small but militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
The Marikana strikers, a crucial part of Lonmin’s 28,000-strong South African workforce, are demanding 12,500 rand ($1,500) a month in basic wages - over double what they receive now.
The government, unions and Lonmin are set to resume talks on Monday on a “peace accord” which is expected to include a framework for subsequent labour negotiations.
Reporting by Peroshni Govender, Ed Stoddard and Jon Herskovitz; Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by david Cowell