Amplats should cut costs rather than retrench, says Amcu

Amcu has a membership of 26 000 out of Anglo Platinum's 60 000 employees across all its operations. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Amcu has a membership of 26 000 out of Anglo Platinum's 60 000 employees across all its operations. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

It has also called for government to revoke the mining licences of the soon to be mothballed shafts in Rustenburg, possibly even nationalising them.

Amcu has a membership of 26 000 out of Anglo Platinum’s 60 000 employees across all its operations, according to Joseph Matunjwa, the union’s president. Speaking at a press conference in Woodmead on Thursday, Matunjwa said Amcu was not formerly notified of the retrenchments, and learnt about the mining company’s plans through the media.

“This is unacceptable,” Matunjwa said. Given the high rate of unemployment in South Africa, he said the multinational mining company had shown that it did not have the ­country’s interests at heart.

He said no jobs should be lost and stakeholders should rather engage on a strategy of how to cut unnecessary costs.
He also called for the intervention of Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.

“We call on the minister of mineral resources, for those [mine shafts] on care and maintenance, to withdraw licences and allow interested businesses to mine there,” he said.

Matunjwa said the planned closures could also be an opportunity to see how nationalisation might work on a small scale. “If Anglo insists on closing these mines, it is a window for the government to nationalise the mine and save those jobs,” he said.

Anglo Platinum has said it will redeploy a third of its workers to Anglo American’s other operations and that two-thirds would be trained to take part in small enterprise-development projects initiated by the company.

But Matunjwa said Anglo Platinum should reskill the workers while they were still in its employment and questioned whether the promise of new jobs merely formed part of a public-relations exercise.

“What jobs? Is it formal employment, or small to medium enterprises in this crowded small space?

“I don’t think that will fly,” he said.

Amcu said the issue was much bigger than just retrenchments at Anglo. Economic policy was flawed and needed to change.

“As long as this economy is run by the foreigners, we are far from reaching liberation.”

After an illegal work stoppage on Wednesday, employees returned to work on Thursday, but the union will meet with its members again this weekend. Matunjwa said, if members wanted to strike, Amcu would have to follow due process.

Lisa Steyn

Lisa Steyn

Lisa Steyn is a business reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She holds a master's degree in journalism and media studies from Wits University. Her areas of interest range from energy and mining to financial services and telecommunication. When she is not poring over annual reports, Lisa can usually be found pottering about the kitchen. Read more from Lisa Steyn

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