The ongoing mineworkers' strike in the platinum belt has reached a stage where the financial impact is becoming irreversible, say mining heads.
The mining strike by Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) miners has caused irreparable harm now valued at almost R10-billion in lost revenue, platinum mining bosses said on Tuesday.
"The extended strike on the platinum belt is unprecedented and at a stage where some of its impacts are becoming irreparable," said a joint statement by the chief executives of Impala Platinum (Implats), Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Lonmin Platinum.
"These impacts are not only on the companies, but also on employees, local businesses, suppliers and on communities. The financial cost – now close to [R10-billion] in revenue lost and around R4.4-billion in earnings lost to employees – does not tell the full story."
Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith, Implats chief executive Terence Goodlace and Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara said mines and shafts were becoming unviable, people were hungry, children were not going to school, businesses were closing and crime in the platinum belt was increasing.
"While the [platinum] companies remain open to discussions with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union ... no talks are currently under way," they said. "Overwhelmingly, we are being told by employees that they wish to return to work, and we need to collectively find a way to ensure that they are able to exercise their right to do so."
Employment will decrease
The chief executives said the structural shift that Amcu was seeking had consequences.
"Sadly, as the industry progresses towards greater mechanisation and higher skills levels, which are aligned with higher earnings and greater productivity, so the number of people employed in the industry will decrease.
"A settlement must be found for the sake of our companies, our employees, the sector as a whole and everyone adversely affected by the strike. We urge Amcu to return to the negotiating table ready to seek an affordable and sustainable solution."
Neither Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa, general secretary Jeff Mphahlele nor treasurer Jimmy Gama could be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Amcu members working at the three main mining companies downed tools on January 23 to push for a basic monthly salary of R12 500. They rejected an offer of an up to 9% increase in wages.
The companies in return rejected Amcu's revised demand that the R12 500 be achieved over four years. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration is mediating talks to resolve the strike. – Sapa