South Africa platinum strike 'over'

Striking platinum workers gathering

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A five-month platinum strike in South Africa is "officially over", says the leader of the union behind the strike.

Joseph Mathunjwa, the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), said it had accepted a wage deal.

He said the AMCU's striking members would return to work on Wednesday.

The stoppage has affected 45% of the global supply of platinum and played a part in the contraction of South Africa's economy in the first quarter.

So far the mining companies involved, Anglo American Platinum, Imapla Platinum and Lonmin, have not commented. Management are meeting the AMCU on Tuesday when the deal is expected to be signed.

'Sign'

Mr Mathunjwa was addressing a stadium full of workers, who have not been paid for five months.

The workers shouted "sign, sign, sign".

Mr Mathunjwa said the companies had "agreed to the bulk of our demands".

The strike began on 23 January, when more than 70,000 workers downed tools to demand higher wages and benefits.

Pay deal

The strike has hit platinum production in the world's top exporting country, with companies reporting a combined loss of 23.8bn rand (£1.3bn, $2.2bn) in earnings.

The deal could mean pay of as much as 12,500 rand (£694) per month, depending on the seniority of the workers, with increases over the next three years.

South Africa holds around 80% of the world's known platinum reserves. So far stockpiles have kept the markets supplied with the metal, which is key for producing catalytic converters used to reduce automotive pollution.

The South African rand gained almost 1% to 10.5575 to the US dollar, its strongest since 9 June.

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