Amcu signs settlement agreement despite outsider speculation

Platinum producers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have signed a settlement agreement, Lonmin spokesperson Charmane Russell told reporters on Tuesday outside the company’s offices in Melrose Arch, north of Johannesburg. 

Mineworkers were expected to return to work on Wednesday after being on strike since January 23.

Reporters were waiting for Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara to address them. 

The resolution of the five-month strike in the platinum mining sector was welcomed on Tuesday, but there were concerns its effects would not disappear soon.

“The South African economy can now breathe easier at the resolution, but an enormous challenge remains in making up for the lost production and economic activity,” said South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) chief executive Neren Rau. 


The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) announced on Monday that the protracted platinum sector strike was officially over. The union was expected to sign wage agreements with the platinum producers later on Tuesday. 

Trade union Solidarity said there would be a “difficult road to recovery”. General secretary Gideon du Plessis said the strike was the longest, most expensive and most destructive in South Africa’s mining history. 

Hanging in the balance
The future of several shafts on the mines affected by the strike hung in the balance and large-scale layoffs were likely to take place. “Moreover, the mining sector’s sustainability was harmed, local economies were destroyed, investors were deterred and South Africa’s image probably suffered irreparable damage,” said Du Plessis. 

It would take the workers who had been on strike several years to make up their losses as the no-work, no-pay principle had applied. By Tuesday, the strike had cost the industry R24-billion in lost revenue, while employees had forfeited earnings of around R10.6-billion, according to a website set up by the companies. Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum downed tools in January, demanding a monthly basic salary of R12 500. 

After five months of negotiations, Amcu announced on Monday that the platinum strike was officially over and that it would sign wage agreements with the platinum producers. The union accepted wage settlements that increase the basic salary of the lowest-paid worker by R1 000 over three years, excluding other benefits, union leader Joseph Mathunjwa told about 20 000 members at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng, near Rustenburg. Some workers would receive R12 500 before the end of the agreement, he said. 

Workers would receive back pay within seven days of returning to their jobs on Wednesday. When Mathunjwa asked members if the union should accept the offer, they chanted “yes, yes”, pointing their fingers upwards. 

Mathunjwa said the agreements, which he hailed as a milestone in the history of mineworkers, would run for three years. Rau said South Africa’s industrial relations framework needed to be reviewed in light of the damage the platinum strike had caused the economy. 

“Sacci remains convinced that the extent of damage wrought upon communities and economic growth and the established attendant criminality seriously brings into question whether open-ended industrial action remains appropriate in the current economy.” 

Review of labour legislation
Sacci and Solidarity called for labour legislation to be reviewed to make provision for confidential strike ballots by trade union members. Du Plessis criticised Amcu’s handling of the strike.

“Because of its poor negotiating skills and ideological framework, the union brought harm to its members and caused the impoverishment of thousands of non-striking workers and their dependants, as the right to strike was elevated above the right to work.” 

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo on Tuesday welcomed the end of the strike, saying it would “pave the way for peace and stability to be restored and for mining operations to return to full productivity”. 

Mahumapelo said the resolution of the strike averted what could have become a “human catastrophe”, even though the economy had already suffered. “[We] pledge our support for the healing process that needs to unfold in the aftermath of the violence and losses suffered during the protracted strike,” he said. – Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sapa
Guest Author

Related stories

Marikana murder trial resumes

The eight-year battle for justice played out its next round in the Mahikeng high court this week

Unethical businesses will face people’s protest

Companies must behave like model democratic citizens if they are to earn and retain society’s social licence to operate

Citizens ache for new form of politics

Talking about a revolution is fitting given the state’s performance over the past 25 years

Mathunjwa retains Amcu presidency

All positions up for nominations at the union's national elective congress were uncontested

Amcu congress is not about contestation — Mathunjwa

All five positions up for nominations are uncontested, pending nominations from the floor

Vavi asks Amcu for unity

The Saftu general secretary addressed thousands of delegates at Amcu's national elective congress on Thursday
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Eastern Cape universities concerned by rising Covid cases

Fort Hare says 26 more students have tested positive while Walter Sisulu University says some of its students have been admitted to hospital.

SAA in talks to recoup R350-million in blocked funds...

The cash-strapped national carrier is in the process of recouping its blocked funds from Zimbabwe, which could go towards financing the airline’s business rescue plan

NSFAS’s woes do not help its mandate

Nehawu wants the scheme’s administrator, Randall Carolissen, to be removed

Unions cry foul over SABC dismissal costs and retrenchments

Broadcaster bodies say claims that a recent skills audit is unrelated to retrenchments are ‘irrational’
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday