Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Ramatlhodi: Platinum talks can’t go on forever

Wage negotiations in the platinum mining sector cannot go on indefinitely, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Tuesday.

“We don’t have time … we can’t prolong the negotiations beyond a certain point,” he told reporters in Pretoria following his decision to pull out of the talks.

“Perhaps pulling back will exercise the minds … of the negotiators themselves. So I’m putting pressure on them, definitely, so that they begin to realise I’ve got better things to do as well.”

The minister set up an intergovernmental task team two weeks ago to help platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) resolve the almost five-month-old impasse.

On Monday, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin announced the task team’s withdrawal from the talks and thanked Ramatlhodi for his intervention. Ramatlhodi on Tuesday denied he was abandoning the talks.

“The simple reason behind this is that I strongly believe we have done enough work over the past two weeks … for the parties to take the process forward and continue engaging on their own. There is an incorrect perception that I have abandoned the talks.” He said his role and that of the task team was to create an environment conducive for the parties involved in the talks following a breakdown in negotiations.”

No agreement reached
Amcu members downed tools on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500. They have so far rejected the companies’ offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12 500 by July 2017.

On Saturday, Ramatlhodi said he would pull out of the talks if no agreement was reached by Monday. Amplats, Lonmin, and Implats said they would look at other options.

So far, the industry has lost R21.8-billion in earnings, while employees have forfeited wages of around R9.7-billion, according to a website set up by the companies

On Tuesday, Ramatlhodi said it was not his intention to replace forums or institutions dealing with disputes. However, he had to intervene because of the impact the strike was having on the industry and the economy. He claimed discussions between Amcu and mining companies were robust and frank and all parties continued to negotiate in good faith.

Ramatlhodi denied speculation that he was forced to pull out from the talks by the ANC’s national executive committee.

“We have a team and that team works as a collective … I was not forced. I do not think going on for much longer would assist.” The team he spoke about comprised of the ministers of labour and police, treasury, and some ANC officials.

‘Xenophobic card’
On Sunday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe suggested there were white foreigners interfering in the ongoing strike. Following his comments, the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp) accused Mantashe of playing the “xenophobic card”.

Wasp’s deputy general secretary Liv Shange, who is a Swedish national, has been advising Amcu during the negotiations.

Ramatlhodi on Tuesday would not be drawn on Mantashe’s comments.

“There are [Swedish] nationals who have been giving Amcu technical advice,” he said. “I think that’s a matter you should ask the secretary general. He made the statement, I didn’t. The only people participating in this matter is the [Swedish] national.” – Sapa

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and get the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. For the latest updates and political analysis, sign up to our daily elections newsletter.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, a full year’s access is just R510, half the usual cost. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Guest Author

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Local government elections: Port Edwards’ residents rely on ‘holy’ water...

The Ugu district municipality has, for years, failed to provide a constant source of clean water and parties are pitching their elections campaigns around the crisis

Eskom to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to avoid load-shedding for elections

Stage four load-shedding rolled out to ensure the polls on Monday 1 November are energy secure

Khaya Koko: John Steenhuisen, please take a knee

The Democratic Alliance leader rebuking cricketer Quinton de Kock would be this election season’s greatest triumph

Paddy Harper: Will the Covid-19 cigarette ban come back to...

Flashbacks of nicotine deprivation and not poor service delivery may see a run on the polls on Monday

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…