North West - Thousands of Anglo American Platinum workers sacked last month for staging an illegal strike have been given more time to decide if they want to reclaim their jobs, the company said on Monday.
Amplats has repeatedly shifted the deadline for the 12 000 workers who were dismissed in October to return to the mine shafts.
But the defiant workers have spurned the gesture saying they will not return underground until their demands for hefty pay increases are met.
On Friday, the world's leading producer of the white metal, offered a R4 500 one-off bonus and gave the workers until Monday to return to work.
But as the latest deadline expired, Amplats said on Monday afternoon that it has pushed the deadline to Wednesday in response to a request by the leading umbrella union Cosatu “to further explore options to facilitate the return to work of employees.”
Amplats said however that the discussions would not involve wage negotiations.
“Should the discussions not be successful, Anglo American Platinum will proceed with effecting the dismissals of the 12 000” striking workers at its northwestern Rustenburg mines, the company's spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said.
It will also “finalise” the disciplinary hearings for strikers at its other mines, Union and Amandelbult, “which could lead to additional dismissals”.
National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Lesiba Seshoka confirmed the return-to-work deadline was extended following pleas from the union.
“In our view, we believe that the environment is not yet conducive for workers to go back to work,” he said.
Miners who have tried to return to work have reported cases of serious intimidation.
NUM and Cosatu leadership were expected to meet the representatives of the striking miners on Monday.
“We are trying our best to convince all the people to go back to work,” said Seshoka.
Output at the company's Rustenburg mines has been hit since September 12 by the strikes over demands for wage increases. - Sapa-AFP