Impala stops night shifts

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BR AMCU 353311 Independent Newspapers. Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa and his members. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - Impala Platinum has cancelled its Wednesday night shift at its Rustenburg operations and would continue to do so for the duration of Amcu's planned strike, the company said.

This was to mitigate the risk of violence and to ensure the safety of their employees, said spokeswoman Alice Lourens.

“There will be employees reporting for duty in daylight so they do not have to travel in darkness,” she said.

“During the period of the strike, there will be no night shift taking place.”

Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin Platinum's Amcu-aligned workers would also be going on strike on Thursday.

The labour ministry said on Wednesday that a meeting between Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the Chamber of Mines would likely take place on Friday.

“Minister Mildred Oliphant has proposed a meeting with both the union and the employer body to try and avert the looming (strike),” the ministry said in a statement.

“However, due to the court action brought earlier today (Wednesday) by the employer body to interdict Amcu against the strike in the gold sector, the meeting was called off.”

Also, Amcu had indicated to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe they wanted to get a new mandate from their members authorising them to take part in the talks.

Oliphant said on Tuesday that she would lead the department in talks to attempt to avert Amcu's strike in both the platinum and gold sectors.

“As we have always indicated, the department is on hand whenever possible to play a mediating role and it is our fervent hope that all the interested parties will seize this opportunity with open hands,” she said.

“Our economy is stressed enough already and another strike in the mining industry would have dire consequences.”

North West police said on Wednesday they were ready for the planned strike.

As a legal strike it was the organisers' responsibility to ensure the strike was peaceful and picketing rules were adhered to, Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said.

“Members of the SAPS, (and) public order policing will be deployed to ensure peace and security of both the striking mine workers and the general public.”

Strikers were not allowed to interfere with public order, destroy property or intimidate non-strikers.

“As the SA Police Service, we have the responsibility to ensure that the laws of the republic are enforced where there is disregard,” he said.

“Safety and security is a shared responsibility and the North West provincial commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo calls upon all parties to play their part in managing the strike.”

No dangerous weapons would be allowed at gatherings during the strike.

On Wednesday, Amcu members were at the Johannesburg Labour Court for a legal challenge brought by the Chamber of Mines to their planned strike at gold mines.

The chamber felt the strike in that sector was illegal, and would seek damages from the union.

On Monday, Amcu announced it would strike in both the platinum and gold sectors after issuing employers with strike notices. The union wanted an entry-level monthly salary of R12,500.

Chamber of Mines spokeswoman Charmane Russell said a “peace clause” in an agreement signed last year prevented Amcu from striking.

The two-tier wage agreement was concluded on September 10 with three of the four unions in the sector - the National Union of Mineworkers, Uasa and Solidarity.

The three unions represented 72 percent of workers in the gold sector, while Amcu represented 17 percent of workers at the time of the negotiations.

Amcu participated in the central level negotiations but refused to accept the agreement.

Amcu members had benefited from the outcome of the wage talks since then, the chamber said. - Sapa



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