Platinum strike ongoing – Wasp

2014-06-18 15:25

The strike in the platinum mining sector will continue as mining bosses consider a counterproposal by workers, the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp) has said.

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

“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 to be met before the strike was called off. She said the conditions had been presented to the employers and workers were waiting for them to respond.

However, trade union Solidarity said the demands of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) remained unreasonable and it called for the strike to end. Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis called on Amcu to “abandon its latest wish list” and to accept the offer.

“Amcu’s latest demands border on negotiating in bad faith, as the union keeps shifting the goalposts. Amcu’s members, as well as the innocent nonstriking 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 the 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on defeating the ends of justice because Amcu was demanding that criminal charges laid against its striking members be withdrawn.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.

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 for two years and R950 in the third year. This excludes other benefits.

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

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

The companies also 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 today it would meet Amcu later as employers and the union sought an end to the ongoing platinum strike.

“Amplats will be meeting 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 spokesperson Sue Vey said the company’s position mirrored that of Implats.

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