From being the Achilles’ heel that often chokes SA’s economy, labour relations on the country’s mines are improving and may help the country in its bid to avoid its credit rating being cut to junk later this year. The world’s three biggest platinum producers — Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin — all reached three-year wage agreements with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in the past week without losing one day to a strike. That is a far cry from 2014, when Amcu shut down the industry for five months, the longest strike in SA’s history. The need to improve labour relations was highlighted by S&P Global Ratings in June as one of the three key "structural measures" needed to keep the country’s investment-grade rating, along with a reliable power supply and revising its mining regulations. Gold miners also concluded a wage agreement with workers last year without a stoppage. "We have a history of frequent and long strikes in this country so ...

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