Implats miners back at work, strike over

2012-02-29 19:03

Johannesburg - More 13 500 workers returned to work at Impala Platinum in Rustenburg by Wednesday afternoon in what may be an end to a six-week-long illegal strike, the company said.

"Today at a meeting of Implats, the NUM and a delegation of rock drill operators, it was agreed to call an end to the illegal work stoppage," Implats said in a statement.

"The company hopes that this also signals the end to the violence and intimidation."

By close of business, around 13 500 people had re-applied for their jobs. This included more than 3 000 rock drill operators, who were vital to get the mine up and running again. The mine planned to resume production on Monday.

"We hope to start phasing in production from Monday, 5 March, following safety inductions and medical screening for all returning employees."

Earlier, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said workers were returning in busloads.

"Buses were full today with people going back to work."

Implats said it would favour dismissed employees when filling positions over the next few days.

"Implats has resolved that in the filling of open positions over the next few days, returning employees will be given preference on a first-come, first-served basis over new applicants, and will receive their old benefits and terms and conditions."

Implats had previously only agreed to rehire 15 000 of the 17 200 dismissed workers.

On Wednesday it said once it had reached 15 000 it would keep a list of names who would be given preference when new jobs became available.

More violence was reported on Wednesday morning. North West police spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said there were two attacks involving Implats workers.

"In the first incident, an RDP house belonging to a 41-year-old man was attacked in Freedom Park by an unknown group of people," he said, referring to the informal settlement near Rustenburg.

The windows of his car and house were broken when the group threw stones.

Four Implats workers on their way to work were attacked, allegedly by a group of striking miners, in Freedom Park Phase Two.

"The victims were attacked with knobkerries and sustained injuries to the head, legs and body," Ngubane said.

They were taken to the Impala hospital for treatment. Police were investigating a case of malicious damage to property and three cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Implats fired the 17 200 workers after they refused to return to work earlier this month, despite a court interdict declaring a strike they embarked on in January, illegal.

Since then, three people had been killed in violence involving dismissed workers. Scores of people were injured in violent intimidation, while over 100 people were arrested for public violence.

During the six-week strike Implats lost 100 000 platinum ounces, which was equivalent to lost revenue of around R2bn, the company said on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema urged the fired workers to return to work.

When problems first started at the mine in January, the rock drill operators, who had downed tools, refused to involve the NUM in resolving their dispute.

Another union, the Association of Mining and Construction Union, was blamed for exploiting employee dissatisfaction.

  • Poloyatonki - 2012-02-29 19:27

    Malema's visit paid out, it wasnt because of Malema the strike would still be going on. They must not forget what Malema told them.

      John - 2012-02-29 19:40

      Trolloyatonki, When was that visit of Malema bra?...I've got tickets here. Only thing that I can tell you that Vavi was showing Zuma his new headquarters in Johannesburg. You definetly missed something very important there. How can we forget Malema's legacy? Put bread in the table. are real troll

      Larry - 2012-02-29 20:06

      Yeah Poly, Whatever you say. Your real name wouldn't have the initials JM by any chance?

      Kolobe - 2012-02-29 21:31

      definitely efficiency of juju

      werner.smidt - 2012-03-01 07:12

      Lest for the last part (which just breeds enmity) he is quite correct. This is how it would be seen: "Julius, the man, the legend . . we'll only listen to him."

  • roger.pacey - 2012-02-29 19:29

    The NUM claims that the strikers will be re-instated, while this article says they will only be re-employed. The distinction is important because if wildcat strikers have to be re-instated with all benefits, wildcat strikes can be called with impunity in future; there will be no difference between protected and unprotected strikes. That's a recipe for industrial anarchy I await the final outcome with interest.

  • Ronald - 2012-02-29 19:49

    I hope the mineworkers take their lost salaries up with leaders of the Association of Mining and Construction Union, who actually instigated the strike. Well done, NUM, for saving the jobs and defusing the situation. The violence still carried on after Juliass left, confirming that he is only an instigator of violence and ineffective at giving the people of SA that which they need, which is firm, level headed leadership THAT CAN PRODUCE POSITIVE RESULTS. Flapping your mouth while uttering baby talk that is only understood by other infants does not cut it any more.

  • Andile Oscar Mtshiselwa - 2012-02-29 21:24

    Well Done To Both Sides As Strike Action Is Not Always a Solution. Especially When There Is A Room For Negotiations. It Did not Only Cost Money but Lives Too.

  • Sipho Jimmy Mvukuzo - 2012-02-29 21:41

    The mine shud nt only tnk malema bt shud pay him,he hz saved them more billionz of money.unionz failed but juju man with his tactics,solved the issue.

      werner.smidt - 2012-03-01 07:14

      No, it was staged.

  • Willie - 2012-03-01 05:53

    When the dust settles and we look over the post-strike landscape we only see loss and ruins; there are no winners! What has this strike cost South Africa in lost taxes to the state, loss of income for the company (plus minus 2 billion rand?) and the loss of salary that the strikers suffered and will never be able to recover. I cannot but wonder if the reality of this tragedy does not register in the minds and the reasoning of the trade union(s) who caused this tragedy; and they say they act in the interest of the workers. Show me what workers gained and I will change my views

  • Trudy - 2012-03-01 09:01

    So how much did they settle on then?

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