* Strike has hit 40 pct of world platinum output
* First meeting of company, union bosses and minister
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, April 17 The leaders of South
Africa's striking mining union and the chief executives of the
world's three biggest platinum producers were set to meet on
Thursday, in a renewed drive to end a crippling strike entering
its 13th week.
"They will be meeting directly with the Minister of Labour
Mildred Oliphant present as well," a spokeswoman for the
producers told Reuters.
Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum
and Lonmin have so far lost 13.5 billion rand ($1.30
billion) in revenue to the longest and most damaging strike at
the country's mines in living memory.
Both sides have been at odds over the issue of pay increases
with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union
(AMCU) demanding a more than doubling of the basic wage to
12,500 rand a month over the next three years.
The producers last disclosed offer was for pay hikes of up
to 9 percent. This is all the companies say they can afford due
to rising operating costs and depressed prices for the precious
metal, which is used for emissions-capping catalytic converters
A source with one of the companies said the chief executives
had held meetings last week and this week with AMCU President
Joseph Mathunjwa and senior government officials, but this was
the first time "the bosses, Mathunjwa and a government minister
will be in the same room together."
The strike, which has hit 40 percent of global platinum
production, is also a headache for President Jacob Zuma and the
African National Congress just three weeks before a national
AMCU on Tuesday asked the government and the public for
funds to help sustain 70,000 striking members who have gone
nearly three months without pay.
Friday marks the start of the four-day Easter weekend in
South Africa and so regardless of what happens at Thursday's
talks, operations won't restart until next week at the earliest.
($1 = 10.5643 South African Rand)
(Editing by Joe Brock)