Strike will cripple ‘fragile’ gold industry – Solidarity

2014-01-21 12:29

A strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) will cripple an already fragile gold mining industry, says trade union Solidarity.

“We are concerned about the job security of Amcu’s members as a strike ... could be unprotected and put the future of thousands of mine workers and their families at risk,” general secretary Gideon du Plessis said today.

“Fortunately, there is still time for the parties to find common ground this week and to avoid a situation where there are no winners, only losers.”

Du Plessis said he was concerned by Amcu’s intention to strike as it could result in retrenchments.

Amcu announced yesterday that it would embark on a strike in the platinum and gold sectors after issuing employers with strike notices.

“We’ve been negotiating with the employers through the CCMA for some time,” he said at the time.

“After we obtained the CCMA certificates for all the companies, we continued in believing in the negotiation process to not come to a stage where there was strike action.”

The Chamber of Mines confirmed yesterday that Amcu would embark on a strike in the gold sector.

But the chamber said gold producers would go to court as it believed the strike was illegal and would seek damages from the union. The strikes will take place at Sibanye Gold’s Driefontein mine, Harmony Gold’s Kusaselethu and Masimong mines, and all of AngloGold Ashanti’s South African operations.

A two-tier wage agreement was concluded on September 10 last year with three of the four unions in the sector – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Uasa and Solidarity.

NUM, Uasa and Solidarity represented 72% of workers in the gold sector while Amcu represented 17% of workers at the time of the negotiations.

On Friday, the CCMA said it had issued Amcu with non-resolution certificates for the platinum sector after negotiations with Lonmin Platinum, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum had deadlocked.

This was after the union referred separate disputes with the three companies to the commission in October and November last year. Amcu was the dominant union in the platinum sector.

Amcu is demanding an entry-level monthly salary of R12 500.

Du Plessis said the strike would not be in the interests of Amcu, its members, nor the industry.

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