Johannesburg (AFP) – A deal for ending a five-month platinum strike was in limbo, mining companies said Monday, as the main union representing workers has not returned to negotiate a final agreement.

Mining companies Implats, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin announced last week they had reached a preliminary deal with the the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which held talks with members over the weekend over the wage hikes.

But discussions on a final agreement to end the strike which has pushed the South African economy into contraction have yet to begin.

“We haven’t been able to sit down with the union to thrash out some of the outstanding issues,” said Implats spokesman Johan Theron.

“We have been unable to sign an agreement yet,” he said.

Theron could not give reasons for the delay and AMCU was unreachable for comment.

The offer included a 1,000-rand ($90, 70-euro) raise in monthly salary for lowest-paid workers for two years, then 950 rand a month for the following three years, according to a statement from Impala Platinum last week.

This would practically double the current minimum wage of 5,500 rand to 10,500 rand ($980, 720 euro) by July 1, 2017, and effectively preempt further strikes for the next five years.

The offer fell short of the 12,500 rand monthly wage the miners had been seeking, however.

AMCU leader Joseph Mathunjwa last week presented the offer to mineworkers in the Rustenburg platinum belt, raising hopes that the package would end the strike.

He later told media that there were still issues that the union needed to consult with the employers.

A local union leader at Lonmin told AFP that workers would accept the offer on conditions that the company rehired a group of workers who were fired in April after striking illegally.

The strike began on January 23, when more than 70,000 workers downed tools to demand higher wages and benefits.

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