Unions talk tough over Lonmin wages

UNIONS have vowed to stand their ground as wage talks with platinum producer Lonmin enter their fourth week today.

Talks resume after a week-long break during which the National Union of Mineworkers, which is demanding an "unshakable" 14percent, was expected to consult its members on Lonmin's 9,6percent offer for the lowest category and 8percent for the highest paid employees.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the union anticipates "big moves" at today's negotiations to secure a deal.

"Hopefully these negotiations won't result in a formal dispute being declared, but the company should also not dilly dally because we won't accept anything less than 14percent," he said.

Negotiating in a separate wage forum at the same mine, Solidarity, which is demanding a 10percent wage increase, last week rejected Lonmin's 7,5percent offer.

Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans said his union was "definitely not" going to accept any offer below 10percent.

Labour expert Andrew Levy said: "I can't see the company settling at 14percent in these economic times, also considering that inflation has dropped significantly in recent months."