/ 18 June 2014

Solidarity urges Amcu to accept wage offer

Platinum miners during a wage increase strike on January 23 2014 in Marikana.
Platinum miners during a wage increase strike on January 23 2014 in Marikana.

Trade union Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis has called on the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to “abandon its latest wish list” and accept the offer that is on the table from the platinum mining firms.

“Amcu’s latest demands border on negotiating in bad faith, as the union keeps shifting the goal posts. Amcu’s members, as well as the innocent non-striking workers, have already paid a high price for the paralysing strike,” he said.

“The retrenchments that will result from the strike will lead to a great deal more suffering and disruption.”

Du Plessis said Amcu remained unreasonable and that its demands bordered on defeating the ends of justice because Amcu was demanding that criminal charges laid against its striking members be withdrawn.

He said the right to strike did not imply the right to commit violence and intimidate people.

“We appeal to Amcu to end its path of destruction and to accept the offer that is now on the table,” he said.

“We also appeal to the employers to continue with legal action in connection with any strike-related offences, thereby ensuring that unacceptable behaviour is not simply excused.”

Amcu was not immediately available to comment.

Strike continues
The strike in the platinum mining sector will continue as mining bosses consider the counter proposal by workers, the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp) said on Wednesday.

“The Amcu-led strike in the platinum mines is still going on, despite last week’s expectations of an imminent settlement,” said Wasp deputy general secretary Liv Shange.

“The initial reaction has been to repeat the claims that the workers’ demands are ‘unaffordable’ and ‘unrealistic’, which still ring as hollow as they did in January – the major mines made average profits of R39-billion in 2011, for example, and have enjoyed profit margins 10 times the average on [the] JSE over the past 13 years.”

Shange said mass meetings had been held across the mining shafts in Rustenburg in North West and Thabazimbi in Limpopo over the past few days, where workers formulated conditions they wanted met before calling off the strike.

She said the conditions had been presented to the employers and workers were waiting for them to respond.

Wage proposal
Amcu members at Impala Platinum (Implats), Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Lonmin went on strike on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

The platinum producers have proposed to increase the salary of the lowest paid workers by R1 000 a year for the first two years and R950 in the third year. This excludes other benefits.

The salaries of officials, artisans and miners would increase by 8% in the first year and 7.5% in each of the remaining two years. The proposed settlement was for three years.

Living out allowances would not be increased for the duration of the settlement. Pension fund contributions, overtime, holiday leave and shift allowances would be increased annually based on the consumer price index (CPI).

The companies agreed to pay workers back pay within seven working days of them returning to work. The back pay was for the period prior to the strike.

Amplats said on Wednesday that it would meet Amcu later in the day as employers and the union sought an end to the strike.

“Amplats will be meeting with Amcu this afternoon, and in meeting Amcu we remain optimistic that we are working towards a resolution towards ending the strike,” spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said earlier.

Implats spokesperson Johan Theron said the company had received a formal response from Amcu on the latest wage offer.

Lonmin Platinum spokesperson Sue Vey said Lonmin’s position mirrored that of Implats. – Sapa