New mining minister steps up strike intervention

South Africa’s new mining minister called on the nation’s treasury and labour departments to assist in ending a four-month strike over pay that’s crippled local operations of the world’s three largest platinum producers.

The government team set up by minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who took office two days ago, will meet officials from Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin on Thursday as well as representatives from the main union at their operations, his department said in a statement on its website. This follows talks with producers on Wednesday and the union on Tuesday.

More than 70 000 members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have been on a pay strike since January 23. The industry’s longest and costliest stoppage saw its economic contribution drop the most in 47 years in the first quarter, resulting in the first contraction in gross domestic product since a 2009 recession, according to Statistics South Africa.

“All parties are hurting,” Ramatlhodi said in the statement. “We have no option but to find an amicable solution.” The parties will “explore all possibilities for a resolution” tomorrow and “report back by the end of the day on what is possible,” Ramatlhodi said.

Talks between employers and the union mediated by a labour-court judge failed to result in an agreement, imperiling the second-largest economy on the continent.

Mediation stop
“It appears like the mediation has come to a stop yesterday,” Ramatlhodi told Talk Radio 702 separately on Wednesday morning. He took over the mines portfolio from Susan Shabangu, who was appointed to the position by President Jacob Zuma in 2009.

Amcu wants R12 500 in basic monthly pay excluding benefits by 2017 for entry-level underground employees. The demands equate to a 30% increase in the first year of a deal, which employers say is unaffordable. They’re offering raises of as much as 10% annually. South African inflation was 6.1% in April.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa and Charmane Russell, a spokesperson for the companies at Russell & Associates, declined to comment on the court-brokered talks when contacted by phone.

The strike cost the companies 471 720 ounces of production in the first quarter. The producers have lost R20-billion of revenue and workers R8.9-billion in wages, the employers said on a joint website they set up.

Aid distribution
Food and supplies such as diapers will be handed out to mineworkers at the Khomanani shaft of Amplats, as the biggest producer is known, Gift of the Givers Foundation, a Pietermaritzburg-based aid group, said by email.

It has distributed about 7 000 food packs, hot meals and about R3-million of medical aid in the platinum-rich Rustenburg area, about 120 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg.

Houses belonging to two members of the minority National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which hasn’t joined the strike, were attacked with gasoline bombs last night near Amplats’s Union mines, the labour organisation said in an emailed statement.

“We do not know whose house will be petrol-bombed tonight,” NUM Union mine branch chairperson Steve Modimokwane said in the statement.

Police have confirmed several attacks and deaths in the past four months and promised to step up security for employees wishing to go to work.– Bloomberg

Andre Janse
Guest Author
Van Vuuren
Guest Author
Advertisting

Salie-Hlophe accuses Goliath of lying and racism

In response to Goliath’s gross misconduct complaint, Salie-Hlophe says Goliath has ‘an unhealthy obsession with my marriage’

Treasury is still seeking SAA funds

The government has committed an additional R2-billion to the airline, but has yet to pay it out

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide
Advertising

Press Releases

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.