More violence at Implats

2012-02-24 10:58

More violence erupted at Impala Platinum (Implats) in Rustenburg, North West, today.

“There have been further serious incidents of violence this morning but I don’t have the details yet,” Implats executive Johan Theron said.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubane confirmed a recurrence of violence and intimidation, but could also not immediately give details as he was in a meeting.

Workers at Implats downed tools in an illegal strike more than a month ago. And as a result, about 17 200 workers were dismissed.

This led to violent protests and at least two deaths.

Implats said dismissed workers could re-apply for their jobs, but would lose any accumulated benefits.

Workers, however, want to be reinstated to their jobs without losing benefits.

Yesterday afternoon, Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi addressed the ex-miners and urged them to return to work.

By yesterday, about 8 500 people had been re-employed, said Theron. “Hopefully after the call to go back to work, the figures will increase today.”

The North West government said yesterday that a settlement agreement had been reached between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Implats for the unconditional re-employment of dismissed workers.

Theron denied this. “After the mass meeting yesterday, there were some conversations among delegates about how the meeting went. There was no formal meeting.”

He said Implats and NUM – which represents about 70% of the workforce – would meet in Johannesburg this afternoon to try and resolve the matter.

“Yesterday was just feedback after the mass meeting and to try and say we are still committed to finding a solution,” he said.

The illegal strike started when rock drill operators downed tools over unhappiness that they had not received a retention bonus, while miners had.

They refused to involve NUM in addressing their issues, and a new union, the Association of Mining and Construction Union, was exploiting employee dissatisfaction in this regard, Implats chief executive David Brown said earlier this month.

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