NUM lashes out at jobs 'blackmail' of mining firms

Cape Town - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is deeply worried about the possible retrenchments of thousands of workers at Sibanye Gold's operations in South Africa.

The union said in a statement on Thursday that it is "shocked and disgusted" after it received a Section 189 notice from Sibanye Gold to retrench 7 400 permanent employees at the Beatrix West and Cooke Operations.

The number excludes close to 3 000 contractors who are also facing retrenchments, according to NUM.

NUM strongly condemns what it calls "the blackmail unleashed" by mining companies led by Sibanye Gold, AngloGold Ashanti and the Bokoni Platinum mine in announcing massive retrenchments.

It regards the actions of these companies as irresponsible.

"The jobs bloodbath is a clear attack on the working class, communities and the poor, a direct attack on mine workers in particular," said NUM.

Sibanye on Thursday announced a restructuring plan that could see about 7 400 jobs being cut.

The miner, which employs 58 000 workers in South Africa, announced restructuring plans at its Beatrix West and Cooke operations.

Sibanye had to stop its operation for the month of June due to an illegal strike. Following this, it dismissed 99 employees and placed 407 employees on final warnings.

READ: SA a terrible destination for mining investment - analysts

On Thursday, Sibanye said employees at all levels may be affected as a result of proposed restructuring in order to ensure long-term sustainability.

The announcement follows AngloGold Ashanti’s retrenchment process, which will see 8 500 workers being retrenched.

According to NUM, 80 000 jobs have been shed in the last five years. The union is disappointed that the government has not done more to prevent the bleeding of jobs.

According to the Chamber of Mines, the mining companies are not NUM's enemy. It said it welcomed better cooperation to save jobs, but that the mining sector is becoming increasingly difficult to operate.

Between 2014 and 2016, the industry made an accumulative net loss of around R50bn, the chamber said. And between 2012 and 2016, the industry lost about 70 000 jobs as it struggled to remain viable.

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