Johannesburg - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) plans to broaden the strike aimed at challenging job cuts at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) to other sectors where it has a majority.
“We will ask for a secondary strike by our members in other sectors to support the very same cause. There is no guarantee that it [retrenchments] cannot happen at, for example, Lonmin and other mining companies,” Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said yesterday.
Amcu members embarked on a strike at Amplats 11 days ago to fight the planned forced retrenchment of 3 158 employees.
Talks between Amcu and Amplats management to end the strike have so far failed.
Amplats said previously that it was losing production of 3 100 ounces a day because of the strike.
Coronation Fund Managers said last week that it would be better for the company to see out the Amcu strike than to give in on the planned job cuts.
Amcu said retrenchments were a last resort and it called on Amplats to terminate the contracts of labour brokers, which provided services.
Mathunjwa said the sticking point was that the contractors on Amplats’ books were providing services such as security, which permanent employees could perform.
Amcu called on the government to intervene, saying the mining industry was at risk of being operated by contract labour and intervention was crucial.
“If the government is the real custodian of mineral wealth, how can the company do as it pleases because of the platinum price? These commodities are there to serve the people, not the interest of the investors,” Mathunjwa said.
“Why does the government not take the licence and give it to other people to run those mines? We are aware that they [Amplats] should make a profit but why do they want this hardline position against the employees?”
In August Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith said the company was consolidating five mines, which were losing R1 billion every six months, into three at its Rustenburg complex.
It initially planned to cut as many as 14 000 jobs, but scaled back following pressure from unions and the government.
Mathunjwa said Amcu had asked the public protector to investigate why Amplats was “sacrificing” permanent employees in favour of contractors.
Michael Bagraim, a labour lawyer based in Cape Town, said Amcu was buying time because the public protector had no mandate over labour issues. “They are scratching around for another avenue, but I don’t think she will get involved because this is not a public matter but a labour relations matter.”
The public protector could not be reached for comment.
Amplats shares fell 1.05 percent to close at R402 on the JSE.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Amcu and Harmony had concluded a recognition agreement on Friday for the Kusasalethu mine. - Business Report