Implats salary adjustments lost in translation
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union-aligned interim workers' committee briefed Implats workers about their new salary adjustments on Thursday afternoon at Number Eight hostel, near the mine's number two shaft.
Fearing arrest, former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema cancelled the engagement he had announced outside the Polokwane Magistrate's Court on Wednesday, following his appearance on money laundering charges.
Earlier this month, workers made fresh salary demands following increases received after a six-week strike in February, which was initiated by rock drill operators, after dissatisfaction over selective retention bonuses. In that violent strike, which started in late January and continued throughout February, three workers were reported dead and scores were injured as they were ambushed while breaking the strike.
This time around, workers were demanding a 10% salary increase but fell short of that mark, receiving varying increases according to their specific categories.
In a salary adjustment sheet seen by the Mail & Guardian, the A3 grade has been eliminated, with the lowest grade for underground workers being A4, with a minimum salary of R7 808, which is inclusive of home-owner and living out allowances. This figure excludes retirement contributions as well as medical aid.
Similarly, winch operator salaries increased from R7 812 to R8 296, while loader operator salaries increased from R8 025 to R8 404.
Presenting the adjustment to thousands of assembled workers, committee members said the adjustments were unsatisfactory and would continue negotiating for satisfactory increases.
The brief, issued by Implats' communication department and bearing only the signature of executive director Paul Dunne, is curious to say the least, raising more questions than it answers.
"Please note that these adjustments are based on our review of the market and will be effected on an individual basis with qualifying employees," it said.
"Individual letters for the occupations listed in the tables above will be distributed on Friday September 28 2012."
The communiqué further mentions "market adjustments" to be implemented for other identified job categories "in line with our market review" to advance "internal and external equity".
It then ends with a plea to workers, urging them that "working together to save jobs", before announcing that the next salary review date will be July 1 2013. The committee was at pains to translate these "adjustments", but one got the distinct sense that the fine print was not just lost in translation but completely left out for obvious reasons.
Addressing the assembled crowd, committee member Khaya Mzimeli said, "We have not settled with management and will continue to demand satisfactory increases." He said they would update the workers on this in the coming week.
Despite his no show, Malema, who paid for a memorial service in Marikana and assisted the arrested Lonmin miners with legal representation, is being hailed as a hero by the Implats committee, with the common refrain being "if charges are being instituted against Malema, Zuma's charges should be revisited too".
Speaking to the M&G earlier in the week, many said that they would not vote for the ANC in upcoming elections.
Amcu is not directly representing the workers as it is currently involved in a stalled verification process, after it emerged as the popular union following February’s strike in which workers violently deposed the National Union of Mineworkers.
During the Lonmin strike, Amcu retracted the CCMA complaint it had lodged against Implats, whom it had accused of drawing out the process, leading to questions about its strategy at Implats.