Amcu blitz strike at Anglo

2013-09-29 14:00

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Planned retrenchment of 3 300 employees ‘could be over’

The strike against Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’) planned retrenchment of 3?300 employees hit hard on Friday, but the Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) thinks it could all be over by tomorrow.

“We have told our members to be ready to report back to work on Monday,” said Joseph Mathunjwa, the president of Amcu.

The strike’s first day saw widespread participation, with the large Rustenburg operations achieving only 20% attendance, according to a company press release.

This shows that those who are taking part are not just workers who are directly affected.

Amcu basically wants Amplats to give out more voluntary severance packages instead of retrenching.

Mathunjwa said he had started talks with Amplats at 8am on Thursday and only left at 9.15am on Friday morning.

Amcu came with a draft agreement filled with proposals, he said. They were planning to meet again yesterday.

“There are 2?000 people who applied for packages, but were declined. We say use that, and early retirement. Give it to all who applied for it.”

In addition, the union claims there are contract employees being used in core mining functions.

“Why sacrifice your own guys while you have that,” said Mathunjwa.

The mining company last month announced its final tally of 3?300 retrenchments as well as 1?500 voluntary severance packages – and 1?600 “redeployments”.

The altogether 6?000 people affected is far less than the 14?000 originally indicated at the beginning of the year.

None of the other unions at Amplats are participating, but Amcu’s membership there has grown to roughly 25?000, according to Mathunjwa.

“We are approaching the 50% plus one mark,” he said.

Meanwhile, the strike in the motor retail industry seemed set to continue after the latest round of talks between metal workers’ union Numsa and the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) on Friday afternoon.

The RMI was offering 7.5% before that meeting with Numsa pushing for at least 10%.

The other union in the sector, the Motor Industry Staff Association (Misa), last week also declared a dispute and will likely have a dispute-resolution meeting with RMI this week.

According to Misa’s Hermann Köstens, the union would be fine with a 7.5% increase – if it was an increase on actual wages.

As things stand, the offer is to raise the minimum wage, meaning anyone already earning 7.5% more than the minimum will get nothing at all, he told City Press.

The sectoral bargaining covers a wide array of employers in component manufacturing and other vehicle-related businesses, as well as car dealerships.

All these sectors are covered by the strike although there are “varying degrees of support”, said Karl Cloete, Numsa’s deputy general secretary.

The petrol strike

Striking petrol attendants will return to work tomorrow after Numsa settled with the employers’ group on an 11.6%, or R2 an hour, increase, thus achieving Numsa’s stated objective of a “double-digit” increase.

At the beginning of the relatively non-disruptive three-week strike, the employers’ group, the Fuel Retailers’ Association (FRA), were offering 9.5%.

Motorists will probably foot the bill when the next fuel price adjustment is announced.

The three-year agreement gives petrol station attendants a further 9% in 2014 and again in 2015.

Last year’s 9% wage increase led to a 3.5c-a-litre increase in the fuel price as part of the regulated fuel-retailer margin in the petrol price.

That margin is currently at 99c a litre.

According to Reggie Sibiya, the CEO of the FRA, most petrol stations continued operations throughout the strike, which was characterised by large-scale strike-breaking and petrol attendants coming to work without their uniforms.

“No customer said, ‘I can’t drive my car because I have no fuel’,” said Sibiya.

“A number closed for a few hours, or had to work with fewer staff.”

He added that the FRA “didn’t have time” to actually count attendance figures.

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