Minister ends strike task team, shafts to be mothballed

2014-06-10 00:00

JOHANNESBURG – The government’s task team has withdrawn from the platinum strike talks despite pleas from across South Africa for its mediation between the mines and unions continue.

The team was set up by Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi last week in a bid to end the four-month-long strike. The three mining companies involved, Amplats, Implats and Lonmin, will today announce mothballing of shafts because they can no longer afford the cost or pay subcontractors, unofficial sources told sister paper Beeld.

Ramatlhodi and his task team met all day with Amcu and the three companies. He had informed the other parties early in the day he wanted to disband his task team. He said it was time for Nerine Kahn, director of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, to take over the negotiations.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa protested the minister’s announcement, but Godfrey Oliphant, Ramatlhodi’s deputy, said the only way out of the current impasse was for Amcu and the three mining companies to submit to voluntary arbitration.

“There is no chance that this will happen. Amcu’s demands and the companies’ salary increases are too far apart to consider arbitration at this stage,” said a source close to the negotiations.

The three mining companies last night said they will make announcements on the future of their shafts today. This means that allocations of electricity will be given up, smelters will be closed and refineries will scale down operations to only process ore from other mines in Mpumalanga and Zimbabwe.

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