Johannesburg - Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’s) concession to cut only a quarter of the 14 000 jobs it originally targeted has not been enough to placate unions and the government.
The subsidiary of Anglo American has been under pressure from the two parties since it announced in January that it was compelled to axe 14 000 workers to maintain the sustainability of its operations.
Amplats said on Friday it would retrench 3 300 employees after its decision to redeploy 1 600 into vacancies, place 500 in other opportunities and place 1 500 on early retirement or voluntary severance.
The employees would be given a month’s notice from today, Amplats said in a statement on Friday.
“We have made every possible effort to minimise the impact on employees and affected communities,” Chris Griffith, Amplats chief executive, said in a statement
Micheal Kavanagh, a metals and mining analyst with Noah Capital Markets, said Amplats had been under pressure to not do an about-turn on the restructuring, and it could be expected to do all it could to minimise the disruption to people’s lives.
“Anglo Platinum has correctly come to the conclusion that the demand for mined metal is weak. Only the most efficient production will remain. As such they are doing the right thing for the long-term future of the company, the remainder of their workers and arguably for the industry.
“They should be commended for taking hard decisions in the best interest of all,” Kavanagh added.
However, both unions representing workers at the company, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), have threatened legal action against the job cuts.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the union would consider options including taking legal action, arguing that Amplats could have looked at natural attrition to reduce the number of employees.
“Instead they want to get rid of people. We will not go to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, but we will rather look at going to court,” he said.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said the union would stop at nothing to oppose the job cuts.
“If we have to go on a strike or go the legal route we will do so,” Mathunjwa said.
Amplats said it was working on a “social impact mitigation plan that would provide additional jobs and housing.
The company said it would create 1 200 jobs at the affected mines in the next six to nine months.
It would also undertake a social housing project in partnership with the Rustenburg municipality and the government to build 4 000 houses and provide skills training.
About 800 jobs were expected from this project, and an additional 1 000 jobs would be created within a year through investments in agriculture, waste recycling projects as well as supplier development activities at the operations and in labour source areas including the former Transkei.
Trade union Solidarity’s general secretary, Gideon du Plessis, said the reduction of job cuts was a sign that the government was overplaying its hand in the regulation of mining companies.
“The government realises that the flood gates are about to open and they are using companies like Amplats to push their promises of jobs.”
This view was echoed by Mark Cutifani, the chief executive of Anglo American, who said the state should not intervene in the mining sector.
“Mining is about real estate and security of tenure – that is, if you threaten ownership, you threaten everything.
“We must remove uncertainty and that means the state must stop threatening ownership.
“Once you stop threatening ownership, you will set a starting foundation for new investment,” Cutifani said. - Business Report