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Amplats miners: Give us what we need

Sapa

Hundreds of striking Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) workers have gathered at a mass rally at the Olympia Park Stadium in Rustenburg.

Amplats workers said they would not oppose returning to work if their salary demands were met. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The crowd was singing and dancing as police in Nyalas and vans kept watch over proceedings. A police helicopter was circling overhead.

The miners would receive feedback on wage negotiations on Saturday after Amplats management re-opened discussions on miners returning to work on Friday.

The workers said they would not oppose returning to work if their salary demands were met.

"We are looking for money. If they give us what we need, we can go back to work," said Simon Gqaza, an employee at Amplats for the last three years.

"I need R16 000. If they give me that money that I'm looking for I will go back to work anytime."

Once-off allowance
Amplats said in a statement on Friday: "The outcome of these discussions is that management has revised the initial offer to a once-off allowance of R4 500 (gross of tax) to be paid to each qualifying employee.

"[This was] comprising a R2 000 loyalty or hardship allowance and a R2 500 safe start-up allowance to be paid two weeks after employees have returned to work and have commenced actual work."

The mining company also agreed to re-opening wage negotiations early.

However, any agreement reached would only be introduced in July next year, in line with the current wage negotiation cycle.

"If the offer is accepted, the understanding is that employees would return to work on Monday, 12 November 2012, after which date the offer will lapse," Amplats said.

Amplats fired 12 000 workers after they failed to appear for a disciplinary hearing. They had been on a wildcat strike since September 12, demanding to be paid a minimum of R16 000 a month.

Economic challenges
The company then made the workers a re-instatement offer, which was not accepted.

Chris Griffith, Amplats chief executive, said the company had previously stated that its operations were under tremendous economic pressure which was being exacerbated by the strike.

"The return to work offer that has been agreed with the unions and the strike committee will require almost R220-million to fund," he said.

"The workers' current demand of a salary increase of R4 500 per month would cost approximately R2.6-billion, an amount that is clearly not affordable in a year when the company is experiencing such economic challenges."

Griffith said Amplats had gone to great lengths to get workers to return to work but if they did not accept the offer Amplats would have no option but to adhere to the dismissals. – Sapa

     

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