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Cosatu, NUM resolve to fight Implats retrenchments

The North West division of trade federation Cosatu has resolved to embark on mass action to demand that Impala Platinum (Implats) call off its efforts to retrench 13 000 workers.

The mining company announced its intention to go ahead with the mass retrenchments in its strategic review last Thursday.

In its announcement, the mining company said it would be pursuing “drastic restructuring required to transition the operation to a sustainable future position”. Part of this restructuring process involves reducing its workforce from approximately 40 000 to 27 000 over the two‐year period.

The market capitalisation of the platinum mining companies has plummeted with the fall in the price of the metal. Impala Platinum’s value is down 80% over the past five years, from R76-billion to R14-billion.

READ MORE: Dark days for platinum producers

On Monday Cosatu North West said it was “deeply disappointed” by this news. “This comes while the nation is struggling with triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality,” the press statement read.

The federation said it has since resolved to work with the National Union of Mineworkers to organise a massive action on August 17 to demand that Impala Platinum “stop their intention of retrenching so many workers” with immediate effect.

“We are making a call to both provincial and national government particularly the minister of mineral resource to engage Impala and instruct them to stop the retrenchments,” the statement said.

“These retrenchments will exacerbate an already worse situation of employment in province and the country. We call upon workers to be united and more vigilant in fighting jobs losses, especially in mining sector.”

On Friday, mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe called Implats’s announcement “unethical and reckless”.

“That announcement undermines the challenges facing society. It’s unethical. It is wrong,” the minister told journalists at his office in Pretoria. “You cannot relegate the workers to just numbers, when you take such a decision you must first look at the available alternatives.”

The minister’s spokesperson Nathi Shabangu said the department was in talks with the company and had advised it to consider different options of saving jobs and keeping their operations running.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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