Amcu hits back at platinum CEOs

2014-02-20 13:50

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has hit back at the CEOs of South Africa’s three major platinum companies, denying that the union is unwilling to budge on its demand for R12 500.

Amcu is willing to negotiate on “how and when” the R12 500 basic wage is attained and will “engage on the motivation”.

This suggests that at the very least, the union will accept a multiyear deal that ends in a R12 500 basic wage.

The companies are offering a three-year deal that will end with basic wages of between R6 300 and R7 200 next year.

Amcu will give feedback from a meeting with members to the CCMA, which has facilitated the talks, later today.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa used a press conference to also attack the alleged connivance between platinum companies and the government to break Amcu.

Next week, Amcu plans to march to the headquarters of mining companies and government departments, Mathunjwa said.

He also lashed out at the “fascist police state ... protecting Amplats’ interests”, called the mineral resources department a “fiasco” and the social and labour plans mines have to draw up to get mining rights mere “ideas on paper”.

He called the claims of widespread violence and intimidation a “smear campaign” and claimed non-strikers were freely allowed to enter Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) operations.

Platinum CEOs called a press conference yesterday to announce that they would not “contemplate anything above” their standing wage offer.

Amcu is now calling on the CEOs of Amplats, Lonmin and Impala Platinum to personally come to the talks.

Mathunjwa also railed against the legal action the companies, especially Amplats, are taking against the union.

Mathunjwa called the Amplats damages claim for R590?million “a last-ditch attempt to suppress us” and joked that the company must be “demonically possessed” if it thought Amcu had that kind of money.

A second legal action will be heard tomorrow in the Labour Court where Amplats and its peers accuse Amcu of contempt of court for allegedly ignoring the court’s order regarding picketing rules.

Mathunjwa also lashed out at the “restrictive” picket rules set by the platinum companies, claiming that they forced strikers to meet in dangerous places.

According to Amcu, some designated picket areas were under power pylons and other undesirable places where strikers are expected to stand in barbed-wire enclosures “like at Marikana”.

The picketing rules were set at a CCMA hearing in Rustenburg a day before the strike started with no Amcu representatives in attendance.

On the day of the CCMA hearing, Amcu’s leadership was in Joburg attending a Labour Court hearing about its attempt to call out a protected strike in the gold industry.

“They just rushed to the CCMA to set the picket rules,” said Mathunjwa.

The picket rules requested by the mines were set and, one day into the strike, the mines took the rules to the Labour Court asking for an urgent interdict to enforce the rules and interdict strikers from intimidating non-strikers or damaging property.

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