Months before 41 shafts to produce ore again

2014-06-18 00:00

SOUTH African’s are holding their collective breath for signs that the platinum strike is finally over, but a wage agreement may only be signed later this week, or even early next week.

Amcu had on Monday evening for the first time formally reacted to a wage offer which the union had received on Friday from Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin. The reaction naming a long list of issues which the union said its members had and which the union wanted to negotiate further.

The most important objection is against the fact that the agreement is for five years — Amcu wants to limit the agreement to three years, ending in 2016, when it wants to renegotiate for the next two years.

The basic wage will then be between R9 000 and R10 000 per month — still far from the promised R12 500 per month which had been formulated in the days before the Marikana massacre in August 2012. This is what Amcu has since been demanding from the mining companies. The current strike by more than 70 000 workers, which had already started on January 23, aims to get a wage agreement on an offer that has already expired in July last year.

Amcu’s members also want the subsidy for workers who do not live in mine hostels, which is between R1 700 and R1 900 per month, to be increased with the inflation rate.

The three mining companies however want the subsidy to remain unchanged to eventually incorporate it — most likely during the fourth or fifth year of the wage agreement — into the basic wage, which will bring the basic wage very close to the ­demanded R12 500 per month.

That is why the basic wage has been loaded in the latest wage offer and the increase for workers on the lower wage levels increased to R1 000 per month for three years consecutively.

This increase will come into effect every year in July.

If the agreement is finally signed it will still take three months before the 41 shafts which had been on the verge of being mothballed, will again come to full production.

All the underground workers will have to undergo medical tests and heat conditioning. It will take two to three weeks and mining doctors will probably be brought from gold and other platinum mines to speed up the process. It will take at least six weeks before the first ore production can start. Personnel managers expect up to 15% of the total work force had meanwhile taken other jobs and will not return.

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