North West premier to question Amplats over shaft closures

Amplats workers abandoned their strike on Wednesday night. (Gallo)

Amplats workers abandoned their strike on Wednesday night. (Gallo)

"Premier Modise will use the opportunity to share the concern of the provincial government regarding the consultation processes, impact of job losses on employees and their dependants," spokesperson Lesiba Kgwele said on Thursday.

"The North West Province, known as the platinum province, is responsible for 94% of South Africa's platinum. The province might be the worst hit by Amplats proposal as 13 000 of the jobs are in the Rustenburg area."

On Tuesday, workers embarked on a strike and refused to go underground following the company's announcement that about 14 000 jobs could be lost by its plan to stop production at four of its shafts in Rustenburg.

The miner's announcement came after Harmony Gold said it was suspending operations at its Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville to review operations after several illegal strikes.

Kgwele said the Modise would "interrogate how these could be mitigated" if the proposal proceeds.

Back at work
Meanwhile, Anglo American Platinum miners abandoned their wildcat strike on Wednesday night, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Thursday morning.

"The workers returned back to work last night [Wednesday] after we agreed during the day to put an end to the strike," spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said on Thursday.

"There are still a few workers that have not returned to work especially in the Khomanani mine but we are confident that they will return today [Thursday]. Our next step is to engage in talks with Amplats."

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole confirmed on Thursday that workers returned to work on Wednesday night.

"I can confirm that our employees have clocked in and have proceeded underground to commence with their shifts at our Rustenburg operations and in the north of Pilanesburg, all is normal," she said.

Further details were not available.

Seshoka said the NUM would try to persuade the company to not go ahead with the retrenchments.

"All of us must remain open to engage on this issue," he added.

Modise is expected to meet the mining company on Thursday afternoon at the Invest North West Offices in Rustenburg.

'Careless business decision'
Meanwhile the Eastern Cape ANC said on Thursday it would be a "careless business decision" for Anglo American Platinum to retrench workers and shut down shafts.

"Given the fact that Amplats announced early last year that they will conduct a review of their business, we think if this is the outcome of that review, it was lazy and anti-development," secretary Lubabalo Mabuyane said in a statement.

"They failed to come up with credible business ideas but rather opted to sacrifice the lives of scores of the workers and their families."

The ANC in the province said Amplats should "go back to the drawing board" and come up with a better proposal.

"The mooted massive retrenchment of about 14 000 workers… is a careless business decision," said Mabuyane.

"What Amplats is not telling us is, how much will their managers and shareholders get, will they get bonuses and will they still enjoy the perks they do," Mabuyane said.

"Amplats must come up with a better business thinking, something that will not push for job cuts. They must come up with a credible business solution," he added. "Cutting jobs will not solve their challenges but protecting these jobs could. Amplats must be honest with us and tell us the truth and nothing but truth."

Mabuyane said Amplats's responsibilities were not only to the shareholders but to their workers as well. – Sapa

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