The deal to end the platinum strike

2014-06-15 15:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The deal that looks set to end this year’s platinum strike after five months could be as historic as the strike itself.

The three separate “settlement principle” documents given to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Wednesday to take to its members, which City Press has copies of, shows how the haggling continued to the last minute.

Lonmin’s document has handwritten amendments, seemingly made by CEO Ben Magara, while Amcu crossed out a possibly controversial clause that would make it “accept that restructuring is inevitable in the short to medium term”.

Among the notes are possible extra concessions from the company like upgrading the all-important rock-drill operators to higher job grades, further improving their position.

Lonmin has attached more caveats to its offer than have the other two companies, Impala Platinum (Implats) and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats).

Lonmin wants Amcu to agree that “there will be no strikes related to any of the items covered by the wage agreement”.

The basic design of all three offers involves a significant change to how mine workers’ pay is made up as well as a steep reduction in the inequality between people doing different jobs underground.

The overall idea is to boost the basic wage as much as possible – at the cost of allowances and pension contributions, which will often reduce in real terms.

All three companies offer variants of a flat R1?000 annual increase to basic wages for lower-grade employees – and are gunning for a five-year deal on those terms. But by the end of the proposed five years, most mine workers will still have basic wages lower than R12?500.

At Implats, the offer would increase the lowest basic wage for surface workers from R4?973 to R9?823 by 2017, while the lowest underground wage will be R10?800. The highest category, C4, will see a wage increase from R15?300 to R22?638.

That means the wage gap falls from 308 times what the CEO earns compared with the lowest-paid worker, to 230 times. The compression is more extreme in lower categories.

In a letter to Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa, Implats says this is still “well beyond what the company can afford”, and the company threatened that the offer could be withdrawn at any time.

The companies all want Amcu to defer any nonwage concerns to task teams after work has resumed.

Amplats, the company least affected by the strike thanks to its unaffected opencast operations in Limpopo, also wants Amcu to “agree to discuss” a “productivity agreement”.

It has pledged “humanitarian” support for returning mine workers which includes “food parcels, transport and health supplements” up to the first pay cheque.

After last year’s gold strike, the gold companies agreed to tackle the scourge of illegal garnishment orders. Amplats has gone beyond this, saying it has “taken legal action against lawyers engaged in inappropriate garnishee activities and will not process such deductions”.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.