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Platinum strike enters fifth week in South Africa with no end in sight

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- A masive strike at the platinum sector entered its fifth week on Monday with no end in sight.

The strike by about 80,000 mineworkers belonging to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMC) has brought the world's platinum production to a near standstill.

The three major platinum producers -- Anglo Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin Plc (Lonmin) -- have suffered heavy losses. The companies are presenting the losses on the website www.platinumwagenegotiations.co.za, with figures on lost revenue and employees' lost earnings changing every second.

By 4:30 p.m. on Monday, the companies revenue loss stood at more than 5 billion rands (about 454 million U.S. dollars) and employees' earnings lost at more than 2 billion rands (about 181 million dollars).

As from Monday, the website will carry a device that displays ongoing total losses of the strike as measured in company revenues and employee earnings, the companies said in a joint statement.

The statement said the companies have noted with regret the continuing refusal by AMCU to moderate its wage demand from the union's opening position of a totally unaffordable 12,500 rands (about 1,136 U.S. dollars) basic monthly salary tabled to the three companies several months ago.

The statement said AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa had asserted that his union is conducting the strike peacefully, but "regrettably, the numerous and ongoing assaults carried out by strikers over the past four weeks on employees seeking to reach their workplaces, contradicts these assertions."

The companies reiterated commitment to a negotiated settlement.

The revised wage offer of a 9 percent increase at entry level made on Jan. 29 during the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) facilitation process remains on the table, the statement said.

"As previously stated, this offer pushes the boundary of what is affordable and sustainable. The companies await a clear signal from AMCU that it is finally ready to engage in real negotiations, " the companies said.

AMCU has vowed to continue the strike until its demand is met.

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