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Platinum producers deny Amcu's claims of meeting CEOs

Sapa

Platinum producers have dismissed claims by Amcu that company CEOs would be part of a mass meeting with the union.

Amcu wanted a basic monthly salary of R12 500 for workers in the gold mining sector. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Platinum producers denied claims by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) that chief executives would be at a meeting near Rustenburg on Monday.

“The CEOs will not be in Rustenburg today [Monday]. They are not part of the mass meeting. It is an Amcu meeting,” spokesperson for platinum producers Charmane Russell said. “The companies will get formal feedback from Amcu after the meeting.”

Some of the workers at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng, near Rustenburg, appeared to believe Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa would sign the wage settlement with the chief executives of Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum later on Monday to end the protracted strike.

“We expect CEOs to be here. The agreement will be signed here at the stadium,” Amcu branch leader Abram Ramasedi said. Amcu members sang struggle songs as they filed into the stadium on Monday morning. A tent had been erected at the venue, ostensibly for the signing. Amcu members in green T-shirts were bussed in from various shafts, including Amplats’s operations in Limpopo. Amcu members have been on strike since January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

Meanwhile, after the Labour Court on Monday made permanent an interim order preventing Amcu from striking in the gold mining sector, Solidarity said Amcu must follow the rules.

“Solidarity believes that this verdict indicates Amcu left its members in the lurch by not negotiating in good faith. We now appeal to Amcu to abide by this ruling,” general secretary Gideon du Plessis said in a statement.

The ruling would prevent the platinum sector strike from spreading to the rest of the mining industry. “The damage to the mining industry now has to be contained to give this industry time to recover so that, after two years of labour unrest, it can once again be put on a sustainable path.”

Earlier on Monday, the Chamber of Mines said the Labour Court in Johannesburg made permanent its interim order preventing Amcu from striking at certain gold mines owned by AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony, and Sibanye. “Historically, the gold industry has always conducted wage negotiations at a centralised level and the process has always been inclusive and fair,” chamber spokesperson Elize Strydom said in a statement.

Interim order
The chamber, which represents the three gold mining companies, approached the court to make permanent its interim order which prohibits a strike by Amcu at certain gold mining operations owned by the companies.

Amcu wanted a basic monthly salary of R12 500 for workers in the gold mining sector as well. The chamber obtained the interim order on January 30 after the union issued a notice to strike on January 20. The chamber argued Amcu should not be allowed to strike as it was bound by a wage agreement dated September 2013 representing majority unions and legally applicable to all workers. Amcu argued its members’ right to strike was being infringed.

Du Plessis said Solidarity welcomed the ruling, as it was opposed to Amcu’s proposed strike. “Amcu was part of the 2013 gold sector negotiations but hardly ever participated in the negotiations,” he said. “Only after the agreement entered into by Solidarity, the National Union of Mineworkers and Uasa with the Chamber of Mines was extended to Amcu, did Amcu suddenly indicate that they wanted to go on strike.” – Sapa

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