Mathunjwa presented to loud applause a revised wage deal to platinum miners at a mass rally in Rustenburg on Monday.
Thousands of miners at the mass rally were given a programme that included “back to work arrangements”, signalling the possible end to the longest strike in the history of the country’s mines.
The rally’s schedule is the clearest sign yet of an end the stoppage and follows the three main producers saying the most recent round of wage talks had seen “further progress towards a return to work”.
Mathunjwa read out the details of the deal for different salary bands at the three platinum producers, Lonmin [JSE:LON], Impala Platinum [JSE:IMP] and Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS], which included a R1 000 per month salary increase for lower earners.
He told miners he wanted to get feedback from them on whether to accept the offer.
The deal would be back-dated to last July at Implats and Amplats but the back pay would end on January 22, when the strike started. This meant miners would not be paid for the months they were on strike.
At Lonmin the deal would be back-dated to last October until January 22.
“In 2012, we asked for R12 500 and people died… and left us with a challenge [to keep fighting],” he told miners at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng, near Rustenburg in the North West.
Before reading out the deal, Mathunjwa asked all miners in the stadium to stand and have a moment of silence for “fallen comrades”.
He said the strike was one of the most peaceful strikes in South Africa.
Mathunjwa boasted about organising a strike that lasted five months, and mocked rival union National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for a three-day long strike in the gold sector.
In a series of mass meetings in early June, members of Amcu accepted wage offers “in principle”, while introducing new demands that producers said were unaffordable.
In their latest offer the producers said they would increase pay by about 20%, or R1 000 a month.
The strike has hit 40% of global production of the precious metal used for emissions capping catalytic converters in automobiles.
The stoppage dragged the economy into contraction in the first quarter and has so far cost the companies almost R24bn in lost revenue, according to an online tally run by the three firms.
On another front, Amcu suffered a setback on Monday when the Labour Court ruled it could not strike in the gold sector, a Chamber of Mines official said.
Amcu had been seeking permission to strike in gold shafts after its members were forced to accept a deal signed last year by the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents most of the miners in the gold industry.
“The court has said to Amcu you are bound by the 2013 agreement concluded by the chamber of mines on behalf of gold companies together with NUM,” Elize Strydom, a negotiator with the chamber, told Reuters.
Amcu represents about 20% of the workforce in the gold mines, while NUM claims over 60%. Amcu’s membership is concentrated at AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG], Harmony Gold [JSE:HAR], and Sibanye Gold Limited [JSE:SGL].