(Bloomberg) -- For the leader of a group that led the longest-ever platinum-mining strike and which self-identifies as “militant,” South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union President Joseph Mathunjwa is sounding rather diplomatic.

Laying out the union’s demands in the upcoming platinum pay talks, Mathunjwa stopped short of his usual fiery rhetoric. “It’s a negotiation,’’ he said, after being asked what would happen if producers refuse to meet AMCU’s minimum wage requirement.

One possible reason for the change in tone: AMCU was this year forced to call off a five-month pay strike at Sibanye Gold Ltd. with little to show for it. Still, Mathunjwa’s not ruling out a fight with the platinum miners either.

“Because there’s inequality, the only recourse that we have is a right to strike,’’ he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at gbell16@bloomberg.net, Liezel Hill, John Viljoen

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