Strikers say well done to Amcu and Joseph Mathunjwa

2014-06-12 17:22

Striking platinum workers at Implats congratulated the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on a job well done and asked its leader Joseph Mathunjwa to sign and accept the R1 000 basic salary increase.

This brought hope for an end to the protracted strike that has been marred by violence. But strikers said it was not all over. They said they were only accepting platinum producers’ latest offer “in principle”, pending an agreement on other issues.

Employers have put on the table a five-year agreement, while employees said they can only accept a three-year agreement. The offer means that low-earning (level A and B) workers, including rock-drill operators, would get R1 000 increase in the first and second year and R950 in the third to fifth year. Level C workers will get an 8% increase in the first and second year and 7.5% in the third to fifth year.

If the agreement is signed, a low-earning surface worker with an entry-level salary of R4 973 will have it increased to R5 973 excluding benefits and overtime allowance. Low-level underground workers were earning an entry-level salary of R5 500 and R5 950 for panel and winch operators respectively. All workers within this bracket are going to have their salaries increased by R1 000.

Mathunjwa set out on mass meetings today to report back to his members on the employers’ latest offer and seek the workers’ mandate.

After five months of not earning any salaries, workers did not hesitate to accept the offer, although there were still some outstanding issues.

Most of the workers have been living on handouts, food parcels and R450 grocery vouchers from the social development department. One after the other, workers took to the podium to congratulate Mathunjwa and Amcu on a job well done.

“Amcu has delivered what other unions have failed over the years. Mathunjwa, go and sign that offer so that we can go back to work,” one worker said.

Workers also demanded that those arrested during the strike be released, and said the company must also come clean on issues of back-pay, saying they want the new agreement to cover back-pay from July 2013.

Mathunjwa was still going to report back to and get responses from Amplats and Lonmin workers later today. It is, however, understood that workers have agreed among themselves across the three platinum operations and they were all expected to accept the offer but not the agreement period.

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