JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's hardline AMCU union declared a wage dispute on Thursday with platinum producer Lonmin, raising the prospect of a sector-wide strike in the local platinum industry.
Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union spokesman Jimmy Gama told Reuters the union would remain in talks with the world's third largest platinum producer, but if no progress was made a government mediator would try to resolve the deadlock.
A strike across the platinum belt is looming after AMCU said on Monday its members voted to down tools at Impala Platinum after wage talks failed, but it has not yet given a formal notice of a stoppage as legally required.
AMCU has also declared a wage dispute with the world's top producer Anglo American Platinum and a state mediator will try to resolve that impasse as well.
In addition, Gama said the union's members in the gold sector were voting on whether or not to strike over wages and could do so from next week.
"We are consulting with them and will know from next week. If they give us the mandate we will call the strike," he said.
AMCU is unhappy with the deals agreed in the gold industry between producers and the rival National Union of Mineworkers, which companies have implemented for all workers.
A fresh wave of strikes would deal a hard blow to investor confidence in Africa's largest economy which has already been hit this year by a spate of stoppages in a number of sectors including the key auto industry.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)