Amcu warns Implats: Gloves will be off should job cut talks fail

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) warned on Tuesday that should consultation fail, it would embark on industrial action at Impala Platinum [JSE:IMP] over looming job losses.

“We are not going to run to [the] labour court, we don’t have money... we will hit where it matters most...[the] gloves will be off,” Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said at a press conference in Sandton.

Implats will need to consult with trade unions as per section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Department of Mineral Resources according to mining legislation, before going ahead with the plan to cut 13 000 jobs in the next two years.

Mathunjwa also warned of a secondary strike at Implats operations if the company brings “technical” issues to the negotiations over job losses.

"[We will] make sure there is no ounce of platinum that goes out of the ground,” Mathunjwa said, adding  "you know we are capable of that, we are not bluffing."

Amcu led a five month wage strike in 2014 in the platinum sector, which impacted economic growth and the entire Rustenburg region.

Amcu is the majority trade union on the platinum belt.

Impala Platinum last week announced that it would cut 13 000 jobs over the next two years as it moves to close five out of its eleven mines.

The world’s second largest platinum producer cited a strategic review into its operations which recommended scaling back on loss-making mines and focusing on profitable operations.

Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe slammed the retrenchments announcement as "reckless and irresponsible" on Friday.

According to the Implats plan, 9 000 permanent employees and 4 000 contractors will lose their jobs over the next two years.

Platinum producers in South Africa- the world’s largest source of the metal- have been battling weak commodity prices and subdued demand in recent years.

Mathunjwa also called on the state to nationalise the five shafts Implats has scheduled for closure, calling this “a great opportunity”.

He also accused the government of “manufacturing” the high unemployment rate.

Mathunjwa said Amcu would work with any union to prevent job losses but said that their major rival, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has no representation at Impala Platinum.

Mathunjwa clarified that if workers down tools at Implats, it will be fine according to the LRA.

Implats’ share price slumped 2.92% to trade at R18.31 by 11:30 on the JSE.

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