Send platinum strike parties to Robben Island – Kgalema Motlanthe

2014-04-07 15:59

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has expressed concern over the three-month-long strike in the platinum belt, joking that the parties needed to be sent to Robben Island in order to find a solution.

The strike has had a ripple effect on the country’s economy and has had devastating financial consequences for miners and their families.

Speaking to City Press after launching a one-stop health facility for former mine workers at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha today, Motlanthe said the strike needed to be resolved soon.

“The impact of the strike economically for the country has been very, very negative. Of course, the mining companies have stockpiles so they are still able to meet their supply commitments and so on. But that won’t be for very long if the strike is not resolved,” Motlanthe said.

The deputy president said the fact that the European Union was looking for an alternative to platinum put further strain on the sector.

“The danger to the platinum sector is that the European Union has set aside money for research into finding a substitute for platinum. Remember, the main consumers of platinum are car manufacturers. So if they find a substitute, we have to research as a country to find new applications for platinum, otherwise the entire industry is going to be in very, very dire straits here,” he said.

Motlanthe, who has been involved in the negotiations to end the strike, said he did not know how long the industrial action would continue.

“I am not in charge of the strike or the collective bargaining. My role was to bring all stakeholders together and to address specifically, acts of violence and intimidation and beyond that, to look into the future of the industry,” Motlanthe said.

He said the strike was as a result of collective bargaining and that the two parties needed to find a compromise.

“I do meet with them offline from time to time to nudge them to continue with the negotiations until they find a meeting point. Because if they don’t do that, the effects will be long lasting,” he said.

“The progress is very slow. At the moment, the union demands translate to a 30% to 34% increase and the employer’s offer stands at 9%, so the gap is far and far too wide,” he said.

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