Johannesburg - By the time striking workers returned to work this week, the platinum mines calculated that the employees had lost R10.7 billion in earnings.
The platinum producers have jointly run a website on the wage negotiations around the strike that included an ongoing count of earnings lost and revenue lost by companies.
The counts finally stopped on Wednesday, five months after the strike started on January 23.
The employees’ earnings lost was logged at R10 737 248 472.
The companies’ revenues lost was logged at R24 159 010 320.
The three affected platinum mining companies were Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin.
The strikers, usually estimated at more than 70 000, were demanding a minimum basic wage of R12 500 a month.
Calculating the earnings lost is not just a matter of dividing R10.7bn by five months of lost wages, then dividing by 70 000 strikers, as that gives an average pay of just more than R30 000 a month each – even assuming 100 000 strikers results in average pay of more than R21 000.
So how was that loss of earnings calculated?
The answer is that non-strikers also lose something, but not as much as the strikers.
Implats spokesman Johan Theron said the ticker was set to accumulate at 44 percent of revenue.
“The total wage cost for the three companies was taken (this included all employee-related costs from the previous year, including wages, benefits, overtime, allowances, bonuses, leave liability, training, etc) and assuming the 80 percent (80 000) people on strike lose everything (100 percent), and the other 20 percent (20 000) not on strike will lose 40 percent of the benefit (overtime, bonuses, leave, etc).
“In this way, the loss to striking and non-striking employees was assessed and compared to the revenue that would have been earned, and found to be approximately 44 percent of revenue.”
Put another way, said Theron, “wage cost (all in) is known to be 55 percent of total cost. Currently, cost and revenue is the same (companies are at cash break-even)”.
Amplats and Lonmin did not respond to queries. - The Star